Thursday, March 25, 2004

In Memory of Dullah Omar

I feel terrible about not putting this up earlier, but I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Dullah Omar, a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee and former Minister of Justice. Omar was instrumental in setting up the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission amongst other achievements when he served in the ANC government. I remember him attending a meeting at a church in Soweto near the start of the TRC process with a group of victims, all of whom wanted to tell their stories. Despite his political duties he stayed there almost the whole day listening. I wonder if he realises how appreciated that was by many there. I think he was a committed and principled man, our young democracy will miss him. Obituary in the Guardian.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Zimbabwe's torture training camps

President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned. The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power. More...

Campaign to Save the Alien Tort Claims Act

The Campaign to Save the Alien Tort Claims Act, more...

Price of Books in South Africa

For some time now I have been very concerned regarding the price of books in South Africa. For those who don't know, they are outrageous compared to the US or UK. All sorts of excuses about exchange rates, but local books are not much better. Anyway, Andie alerted me to this little extract from a show on SAFM the other day on a campaign to drop VAT on books in SA, which was interesting. Extract: "Good morning and welcome to another edition of 'The Bookshelf' here on SAfm, your news and information leader. I'm Alan Swerdlow and I'm joined this morning by Michelle Constant, Peter Terry and Will Bernard. Lots to get through. Just as a sideline, I was hoping that I was going to be able to talk about some good news today, and mention that our Minister of Finance had decided to drop taxing books. Unfortunately, despite a very cogent and cleverly put together campaign organised and co-ordinated by Terry Bell, the appeal to drop VAT on books has fallen not on deaf ears, because the Minister certainly mentioned it in his speech, but he has not complied. So this is something we need to carry on fighting. It is a good fight and needs to be fought long and hard. We need to make books as cheap and accessible as possible for all people in this country.". I wonder if more can be done and if others have links on how to support this campaign....

Sunday, March 14, 2004

New Government for Spain

On Thursday March 11 2004 a series of bombs exploded at railway stations in Madrid, killing more than 200 people. Throughout Spain, millions took to the streets to protest against terrorism. On Sunday March 14 Spain's government - widely seen as hiding the truth about who was responsible for the attacks - was thrown out in the general election. Here the Guardian presents a selection of images from the days following the attack, a moment in history...and at least change seems like it is on the way...see picture series...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

In Canada (again), focus on Reparations

I am in Canada once again focusing on the issue of reparations. A group of us are presenting the the results of one of the most comprehensive attempts to compare and evaluate programs to repair the harms caused to victims of human rights abuse. These are being presented at the symposium Repairing the Past: Reparations and Transitions to Democracy, the project was a partnership between the IDRC and the ICTJ. The symposium is taking place March 11-12, 2004, at Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa. People interested in my paper can email me. For more information and the outline of the findings go here.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Mydoom, Bagle and Netsky families Virus

The new virus' doing the rounds on the internet are really starting to annoy me! They use a common spoofing process not from the infected customers. W32.Beagle.A@mm, the one fired at me the most, is a mass-mailing worm that accesses remote Web sites and sends email to any addresses it finds using its own SMTP engine. In other words it immitates website extensions, so I am sure many of you are getting email with the extension of your own server. Today I got one from Virus' that operate in a similar way are Mydoom, Bagle and Netsky families. To read more about it click here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Creation of First Truth and Reconciliation Commission in USA Begins

by Signe Waller
The first Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the United States is being created in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project (GTCRP), although extra-governmental, is building broad community support that includes local public officials and clergy people. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, met with the Project's Local Task Force in April 2003 and endorsed the Project. More...