Thursday, April 29, 2004

Raytheon in Derry...out Derry

The Derry News recently reported on the arms manufacturer Raytheon and their role in Derry. I thought I'd publish an extract from it sent on by Angela Hegarty spokesperson for the Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign. The issue is important. Paddy McGuffin wrote in the Derry News, that the SDLP in Derry has "called on Raytheon to publicly declare the nature of the work they are conducting in the city, after former workers at the plant disclosed that they had developed military software at the firm’s Springtown plant. The workers have given signed statements to the Derry News acknowledging that they personally worked on technology for the MoD and the US Defence Department, and on guidance and monitoring technology for missile systems. They say that work was done here on Identification Friend or Foe (IFFs) systems ­ which are used to detect and destroy unrecognised missiles, and which were widely used in the recent war on Iraq. They admitted that they had worked on projects developing software for military spy-planes and claimed that the bulk of all Raytheon’s work in Derry was military-related. Widespread concern has been expressed over these allegations...Raytheon Systems Limited ­ one of the world’s leading defence companies came to Derry in 2000. But the company gave Foyle MP John Hume strict assurances that the only work to be conducted here would be on commercial projects - such as air-traffic control systems. Earlier this year Derry City Council pledged that, should it be revealed that Raytheon were doing defence work in the city, they would no longer be welcome. And anti-war campaigners said last night that it was now time for the Council to take action". Needless to say Raytheon has declined to comment, the article goes on. Hopefully the anti-Raytheon Campaigners who have fought this issue tirelessly will be rewarded. The Raytheon site is also worth looking at, it speaks volumes..."Customer success is our Mission" it states. Disturbing when your primary customer is the US military...

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

New South African Cabinet

President Mbeki has released the list of the new more Buthelezi and an AZAPO appointment to Cabinet are the strange only ones, and needless to say Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang the Health Minister keep her job despite every attempt to lose it over the HIV/AIDS issue in the last while!

Freedom Day in South Africa...and Ireland

The 27th of April is Freedom Day in South Africa as this was the date of the first democratic election. It is now 10 years on, so a decade of democracy...time flies. The biggest party seemed to be held in Pretoria. The BBC site on South Africa offers a host of links, audio and video. On this side of the world I attended a big bash at the at the residence of the South African Ambassador in Dublin. It was a fantastic event with lots of music and outdoor festivities, including music from Buskaid and a big African styled performance from the Irish Community Arts Programme Macnas. All great...just trying to recover now.

Monday, April 26, 2004

ID Cards for Britain

Thought I'd quickly mention the issue of compulsory ID cards in Britain. Looks like Blunkett, in his true to form conservatism, is trying to get this rushed through. Apparently the conservative Labour government (not all to be fair) think this will help with migration issues. Although carrying the cards won't be compulsory (a fact which New Labour will change later or a Conservative government at some point no doubt), police will have access to the cards and can ask you for them at any time. The cards will carry biometric data. Now there is something the apartheid government could only have dreamed of....

Friday, April 23, 2004

America War Dead and Princess Diana

A friend, Dom, just dropped me an email to note the irony of the fact that the US is said to be furious over the publication of photos of the coffins of American Iraq war dead (see BBC article), in the same week as it is found OK to publish pictures of a dying Diana. Strange old world. The BBC article also highlights the following stats, 135,000 US troops in Iraq, tour of duty extended for 20,000, 91 US soldiers killed in April (and hundreds of Iraqis, unofficial sources say) and nearly 600 US troops killed since 1 May 2003. What a waste all round.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

More amnesties for South Africa?

Seems like the discussion of more amnesties in South Africa is back on the cards, surely not? Some say that Mbeki's inauguaration may be the place to announce pardons for prisoners. ThisDay newspaper suggested on Tuesday that former security policeman and assassin Eugene De Kock might qualify for a presidential pardon. The National Prosecuting Authority said today that it would not stop hunting apartheid-era criminals unless asked to do so by Parliament and that no new law was being considered. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation released a press statement saying they were "deeply concerned" that ongoing negotiations might be going on with regards to amnesties, and that if so, it would undermine the achievements of the TRC. So what is going on? Doesn't sound good and further amnesties surely cannot be the answer. They would only further undermine the minimal respect for the law in South Africa and contribute further to impunity...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

China: Discourse and Cultural Transformation Conference

Information on this rather interesting sounding conference was sent to me from Ian Parker on the Discourse Unit's listserv. The conference blurb says: "Cultural imperialism is one of the most fundamental and pressing problems in contemporary ordinary and disciplinary life. To initiate an international forum on how discourse research can help enhance cultural cohesion and common progress, we are organising an international conference at Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China) between 9th and 13th of October, 2004. Through this forum, we hope to bring together scholars in language and communication, cultural studies, literary criticism, anthropology, education, sociology, psychology and other social disciplines and from a diversity of cultural backgrounds." More information can be found on the Conference website, and ideas for papers have to be submitted by 30 April 2004.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Contextual Search Engines

Just came across some stuff on contextual web searches. It is really interesting, take a look. Look at the different ways search engines are developing using more visual and contextual ways of mapping the web. Try some of them out such as Kartoo. It is well worth the experience I must say...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation?

Overcoming Apartheid: Can Truth Reconcile a Divided Nation? This is the second entry in Gibson’s “Overcoming Trilogy” (the first was Overcoming Intolerance in South Africa: Experiments in Democratic Persuasion, Cambridge University Press). Russell Sage describes the book as follows: Overcoming Apartheid reports on the largest and most comprehensive study of post-apartheid attitudes in South Africa to date, involving a representative sample of all major racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Grounding his analysis of “truth” in theories of collective memory, Gibson discovers that the process has been most successful in creating a common understanding of the nature of apartheid, more...

Saturday, April 17, 2004

OK, final one on the election results...promise

African National Congress - 69.75%
Democratic Alliance - 12.32%
Inkatha Freedom Party - 6.9%
United Democratic Movement - 2.3%
Independant Democrats - 1.73%
New National Party - 1.67%
African Christian Democratic Party - 1.6%
Freedom Front Plus - 0.92%

OK, here are the final results, or close to it as I can find. This will also be my last post on the election for a while...

Friday, April 16, 2004

Elections, you think its all is now...

So it is all over, although the final results will only be officially announced tomorrow. Just heard Thabo Mbeki's victory speech on the radio. The ANC had polled even better than before with 69.7% of the votes, or somewhere close to that. The ANC has also won Kwazulu-Natal. The Democractic Alliance has also made some gains to 12.39%. But I suspect the DA will not convert themselves into a serious opposition until they shift their public persona from one of 'opposition for the sake of opposition' to putting forward some credible alternative policies. My humble opinion is that Tony Leon, leader of the DA, may have to go at some point for this to happen as his image is tied up with the 'opposition for the sake of opposition ' approach and linked too tightly to the conservative white vote. A wider ranging opposition is needed. The National Party is in free fall and got less than 2% of the vote. No loss there if you know what I mean. So, don't know what else to say at this point. Congratulations is in order for the ANC who by all accounts ran a very targetted and strategic campaign, no complacency there. Above all else, I am delighted that South Africa now has three free and fair democratic elections under belt...the people have spoken...and it all feels like we have been running democractic elections for years now, which is rather nice...

South African Election Results

For the last two days I have been sitting here doing some writing work with the Radio 702 on the internet from South Africa on in the background listening to election coverage, I think being so far away seems to make the results seem to take forever to come through. As it currently stands, with 90% of the votes counted, the ANC has received over 10 million votes and their majority almost at 70%! More to come as it unfolds and finalises...

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

South Africa Goes to the Polls

So today is the day South Africa votes. Wish I was there. Looks like the ANC is on its way to a landslide victory, here is a link to a BBC report following a recent interview with Thabo Mbeki who, by all accounts, seems to have done a good job of selling the ANC at the grassroots once again. The site also gives a potted little box of achievements and challenges so far, e.g. 70% households now electrified, 1.6 million houses built since the 1994 change of government. It also mentions the challenges such as the estimated 30% unemployment rate and the staggering HIV figures, over 5 million people infected. What a challenge indeed. Politics ZA, a blog always worth the visit, they predict the seats as ANC 65, DA 12, IFP 8, ACDP 5, NNP 3, UDM 2, PAC 1, ID 1, FF+ 1, a little bit different to poll data. We wait and see...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Educating for a Civil Society After Violence

Should have put this up earlier, but there is still time to participate or at least read some of the outcomes from Facing History and Ourselves online forum reflecting on education following collective violence.

Friday, April 9, 2004

Washington and back, Trauma and Transitional Justice

The last two weeks have been crazy, and only now am I finding time to update the weblog. Since the last entry I have been to Washington and back, presenting at the Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies Conference hosted by the AAAS.  presented on the issue of memorials with a specific focus on Northern Ireland. I tried to fit the presentation into the framework I am developing regarding reparations for mass political violence. You can download the conference paper here. And now for some rest, well at least a bit...