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    Africa’s dilemma: Transitioning from where to where?

    2014-11-19 - Justice seeks to enable societies to come to terms with legacies of large-scale past abuse, in order to secure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation towards a future that is democratic and free from violence, but its groundings and mechanisms are fraught with multiple dilemmas.

    Beyond the TJ Industry: Transitional justice and changing international order

    2014-11-21 - flashy branding of the transitional justice process as ‘TJ’ does more to keep oppressive systems in place than to bring real progress where it is needed. Transitional justice must be used as a catalyst to foment real, case-by-case systemic changes instead of as a one-size-fits-all neoliberal template.

    Transitional justice: Challenging contemporary knowledge, narratives and practice

    2014-11-21 - Justice has rarely taken into account all forms of oppression, economic discrimination, globalized injustice and a wider understanding of dignity and freedom. African societies need to theorize on transitional justice holistically in order to create social transformation.

    Jurisprudential and political economic dimensions of transitional justice in Africa

    2014-11-21 - and lasting peace in Africa’s conflict states would be better guaranteed if transitional justice included the rule of law, separation of powers, electoral reforms, decentralization and a democratic ethos nurtured by free media and a vibrant civil society.

    Exploring transitional (and other kinds of) justice in Zimbabwe

    2014-11-21 - debate around how to deal with Zimbabwe’s violent past is currently dominated by the transitional justice model and the human rights discourse which accompanies it. But an analysis of the country’s history as well as its present moment presents different ways of considering ideas of justice and healing – ways that may be better suited to Zimbabwe’s particular circumstances.

    The transitional justice process in Kenya: Unfinished business?

    2014-11-21 -’s transitional justice processes have been crudely politicized to protect the interests of the powerful. The country typifies the dilemma that plagues most African countries today. While most of the regimes are beginning to acknowledge that there have been atrocities, human rights abuses and various forms of injustice, they simultanesouly appear to be perplexed by the demands for peace and justice.

    Transitional justice: Whose justice?

    2014-11-21 - quest for justice for past wrongs is often hindered by restrictions on which violations to investigate and how far back to look into history. Across Africa, tjustice mechanisms tend to restrict themselves to uncontested periods and rarely probe into complex injustices.

    Somalia: Let’s just forget the past?

    2014-11-18 - will be impossible to reconstruct Somalia without addressing its complex past. Yet the current definition of transitional justice appears too narrow to be beneficial, since it limits the space for local-based procedures in favour of Western concepts like the state, rule of law and democracy.

    From the comfort zones to reality

    A reflection on the Tafakari oral narrative tour 2014-11-18 - http://www.fahamu.orgThe oral history tour took transitional justice practitioners, activists and scholars out of the comfort zone into reality: To engage directly with survivors, hear their personal stories and appreciate their lived experiences as they pursue justice and reconstruction within complex social, economic and political infrastructures.

    Shifting the discourse from victimhood to reconstruction

    2014-11-21 - transitional justice to be relevant and effective it must be informed by local understandings of justice. The form of justice should be informed by local priorities as identified by victims and survivors.

    Situating transitional justice in the context of South Sudan

    2014-11-18 -’s newest nation has been engulfed in violent conflict for a year now. It is sad that the freedom struggle that lasted so long has not translated into quality life for the majority of the citizens. The root causes of this must be addressed – and they have everything to do with failed leadership.

    The site

    2014-11-21 - http://www.pambazuka.orgA reflective poem by a Kenyan activist who visited Mukura Massacre Memorial site in Soroti region of Uganda where on July 11, 1989, the 106th battalion of the National Resistance Army (NRA) allegedly rounded up 300 men from Mukura and other surrounding areas and incarcerated some of them in a train wagon. These men were suspected of being rebel collaborators against the NRA regime, but there is little evidence to suggest that most of them were anything other than innocent civilians.

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    Women Rising 26: A Ride on the People's Climate Train

    Truthout - 4 hours 57 min ago

    In September of 2014, Women Rising radio rode the People's Climate train coast to coast, with over 200 activists heading to New York City to join the largest climate change march in history.


    • Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity, No Tar Sands Campaigner
    • Penny Opal Plant, Indigenous climate activist
    • Lauren Wood, Utah's Peaceful Uprising co-founder
    • Teresa Jimenez, Urban Tithe organizer
    • Shannon Biggs, Global Exchange Community Rights program director
    • Rosalind Harris, Global Climate Justice Alliance
    • Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director
    • Sister Santussika, Tony Sirna, Camille Herrera, Carrie, Riders on the People's Climate Train
    • People's Climate Train Singers

    Arts Students Are Motivated More by Love of Subject Than Money or Future Careers

    Truthout - 5 hours 33 min ago

    Science and engineering subjects are often presented as better career choices for students than the arts or humanities. Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, recently said that STEM subjects – sciences, technology, engineering and maths – unlock doors to all sorts of careers and that pupils who study maths to A Level earn 10% more over their lifetime.

    Previous research has shown that there are actually lots of factors including ability, personality, motivation as well as family and educational background which impact on what undergraduate degree people take and their ongoing career success. And our new research has shown that the importance of the different types of motivation varies depending on the subject a student chooses.

    Importance of motivation

    When we are excited about something, whether it is a hobby or an interesting work-related task, we tend to perform better and apply a variety of creative approaches. If we are focused on a particular goal, we might be more organised and use a more structured approach in delivering the expected result.

    This focus on an external goal, such as financial success, is known as "extrinsic" motivation, while enjoyment is known as "intrinsic" motivation. Both are very important for career success but in different ways. Extrinsic motivation leads to better performance, while intrinsic motivation to a deeper, more thorough way of learning.

    Our new research shows that students studying for different degrees differ in their level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. We asked a sample of 896 prospective students who attended open days and 989 current students at two large UK universities in the Russell Group the reasons for their degree choice. They were asked to rate how true statements such as: "I have chosen this degree because I was always interested in this subject" or: "I have chosen this degree because it provides good career options" were for them.

    Different degrees, different reasons

    We found differences in the reasons that students of certain subjects had for choosing their degrees, as the graph below shows. For example, current and prospective engineering students rated career options as a very important reason for their choice of degree, while interest in the subject was a low one. Yet arts and humanities students showed the opposite: prospective students reported enjoyment factor as important in their degree choice, while career was not as important on the agenda.

    Both types of motivation are important to success on the career path, both in a person's degree and their future job. So it is necessary to have a goal to be successful in your career. It is also important to provide students with an opportunity to follow their intrinsic motivation to enjoy their studies because they will perform better at what they enjoy.

    Restructure arts degrees

    Careers are often judged by financial success – and not without a reason. And graduates from arts and humanities degrees seem to make less money than their STEM peers. For example, a 2011 report by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, puts most arts and humanities subjects at the bottom of the pay scale.

    But perhaps the reason for that is not that those careers are a bad choice. If arts and humanities degrees attract people who are not career-driven, could that explain why they do not do as well financially in their career in the future? In order to make more money, you need to strive for that – it doesn't just come by itself.

    If it is the case that arts and humanities students do not do as well financially because of low career aspirations, should we discourage them from choosing arts and humanities? Probably not – these degrees are where they might do the best – because they enjoy it. Instead, universities should provide them with more career focus in their undergraduate courses that can make those students more structured in achieving their career goals.

    But we need to exercise caution in doing this. Previous research has shown that, in certain cases, external rewards such as being praised for being on top of your class actually undermine intrinsic motivation. This might lead to a "surface" type of learning where students are focusing on reproducing material accurately for a test without necessarily understanding it. If people start the degree because it is enjoyable and then are made to focus too much on external achievements, it might paradoxically make them enjoy the process of study less.

    And if people are not that keen on what they are doing and just do it for the pay, they may be less likely to do a good job – or they might drop out if better-paid work opportunities arise. So the key is to let people choose what they enjoy – and then help them to make it into a career.

    The Poor Suffer From Hunger - Not the Munchies

    Truthout - 5 hours 48 min ago

    Thanksgiving is an occasion when we gather with our families for festive meals. It's also a time when many of us donate to help the less fortunate celebrate with their families.

    This holiday binds us all together: At least once a year, you should be able to sit around a table with your loved ones, enjoying turkey and mashed potatoes. If a bit of charity is needed to extend this joy to everyone, then many of us are glad to pitch in.

    But how about the other 364 days of the year? What do the hungry do then?

    Well, they better not be doing drugs, according to conservative governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

    This notion falls in line with the image of the so-called "welfare queen," a cruel stereotype of public assistance recipients based on just one woman — a criminal named Linda Taylor, whose illegal activities went far beyond simply welfare fraud. In fact, she was suspected of murder.

    The typical face of public assistance probably looks a lot more like you — or me.

    Back in 2006, I got a glowing review at work, followed by a raise. I bought a condo. But all too suddenly, my job situation changed for the worse, and I found myself unemployed.

    I tightened my belt, of course — but I had a mortgage to pay. Unemployment insurance was a savior as I looked for a job and attempted to sell my home in a tough market. After a few months, I got back on my feet.

    Years later, I tried to make a go of it as a freelance journalist. Financially, it didn't work out, even though I was working hard and getting published. I wanted to earn enough to live on — badly.

    So I regrouped and applied to graduate school. But it took about a year between deciding to go to school and enrolling in a PhD program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the latest official name for food stamps — briefly helped me out through a rough patch in between. The meager $70 per month I received was a godsend.

    During either period, had I wanted to use illegal drugs, I couldn't have afforded them. My money went to food, rent, and utilities, and almost nothing more. Even movies and haircuts were too luxurious for my budget.

    That's exactly what the state of Florida found out during its brief stint drug-testing welfare recipients. Only 2.6 percent tested positive — far less than the 8 percent of Floridians overall who use illegal drugs. The testing program cost more money than it saved, and then it was struck down by the courts to boot.

    In Utah, a similar program identified only a dozen users among welfare recipients.

    These failed gotcha games haven't stopped other states from trying the same gimmick — including Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, and now Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has proposed testing applicants for both unemployment benefits and food stamps.

    I wish Walker would realize that very few people facing economic hardship have the luxury to dabble in drugs. If you're poor enough to qualify for food stamps, you're really poor. Even with food stamps, you're still having trouble making ends meet.

    Also, nobody would ever be able to fill out the reams of paperwork required to get food stamps while high. It's a bureaucratic nightmare to qualify for any form of assistance. Sobriety is required — and maybe a caffeinated beverage.

    Drug testing the poor wastes taxpayer money and only serves to stigmatize economic hardship. Mending the safety net makes more sense.

    And we need a living wage so that fewer people who do work — including over half of all able-bodied adults who rely on food stamps — will require public assistance just to get by.

    That might not fly with the new Republican majority in Congress. But it'll do a lot more good than donating a turkey once a year.

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