Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Madrid conference links interreligious dialogue with building peace

Filed under: Religion and peacebuilding — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:11 PDT

Dialogue is “the best way for mutual understanding and cooperation in human relations as well as in peaceful coexistence among nations,” said the final communiqué issued by the conveners of the World Conference on Dialogue and broadly affirmed by the conference which ended on Friday 18 July in Madrid, Spain.

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Parallel Universe

Filed under: Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:08 PDT

At the Tallberg Forum in late June, it became apparent that politicians and scientists are often on different wavelengths.

Scientists accept with much certainty that the Arctic ice sheet is melting and that temperatures are rising. Others worry about the increasing amounts of fossil fuels being emitted into the atmosphere. Scientists recognize that the current situation will lead to droughts, floods, and other natural disasters, and place their hopes on “an adaptive and inventive human race” to help solve these problems.

Politicians, on the other hand, often use empty rhetoric when speaking of climate change, as evidenced by the latest G8 statements on the issue. The Bush administration has only recently come to accept the challenges posed by global warming, but makes any actions by the EPA or its scientists very difficult. Until the gap between politicians and scientists is bridged, climate change will continue and humans will pay the price.

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What’s causing global food price inflation?

Filed under: Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:03 PDT

New research shows that India, China, and speculators are not the culprits in the food price explosion. Biofuels were a significant element in the 2005-2007 food price surge as they accounted for 60% of the growth in global consumption of cereals and vegetable oils. There cannot be any doubt that biofuels were a significant element in the rise of food prices. Since new research also shows that biofuel support policies are disappointingly ineffective on environmental grounds, governments should reconsider them.

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Biofuels can reduce emissions, but not when grown in place of rainforests

Filed under: Environment — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 13:01 PDT

Biofuels meant to help alleviate greenhouse gas emissions may be in fact contributing to climate change when grown on converted tropical forest lands, warns a comprehensive study published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The new research looks at the “carbon payback time” or “carbon debt” of various biofuel feedstocks including oil palm, sugar cane, and soy.

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The Future of ADR: Professionalization, Spirituality, and the Internet

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:35 PDT

In this summer’s ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine just out, mediation visionary David Hoffman takes the long view of our collective future in an article titled The Future of ADR: Professionalization, Spirituality, and the Internet.

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ASEAN human rights body: Myanmar opposes investigative powers

Filed under: Human Rights,Myanmar,News Watch Blog,Southeast Asia — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:34 PDT

SINGAPORE — Myanmar’s junta has indicated it will oppose any effort to give a Southeast Asian human rights body the power to monitor or investigate rights violations in the region, diplomats said Tuesday.

A high-level panel of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations started work Monday to set up the rights body. The panel will lay down the body’s future makeup, role and powers, which will be presented to a summit of ASEAN leaders in December.

But in a closed-door session with the panel Monday, Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win said the human rights body should uphold ASEAN’s bedrock policy of noninterference in each other’s affairs, a diplomat present at the meeting told The Associated Press.

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Who Cares For This Boy?

Filed under: children and youth,Human Rights,International Law: War,News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:42 PDT

His hair has grown, his voice sounds a little deeper and his wounds appear to have healed somewhat. But what isn’t clear from the first ever Guantánamo interrogation video to be released for public consumption is that Omar Khadr is blind in one eye.

The Bagram airbase lies some 30miles north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Inside the airbase is a prison, a converted machine-factory built by the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan. Inscriptions in Russian are still visible on the walls and doors. During the day, this place is usually deathly quiet. But at night, the sounds of soldiers as they patrol, chains clinking along the concrete floor as prisoners are frog-marched to and from interrogation rooms and screams of interrogators and interrogated usually keep you awake. It is worse than Guantanamo. In this place I witnessed two separate killings by American soldiers – the subject of this year’s Oscar-winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side – before I too was sent to Guantanamo. It is here too that I first met Omar Khadr, a boy from Canada who’d just turned sixteen.

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Facing ourselves: new tests for hidden biases at Project Implicit

Filed under: Dispute resolution and negotiation — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:41 PDT

This is by no means the first time I’ve encouraged readers to plumb the depths of their hidden biases with the help of Project Implicit and its Implicit Association Test (IAT), an instrument which “measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report.” With the recent discussion here and elsewhere of gender bias, I thought it was time to revisit the IAT.

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Media power and responsibility

Filed under: Media and Conflict — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 11:34 PDT

Gideon Rachman had a great piece in the FT on Monday. In “American journalism, still a model”, he contrasts US and UK media, finding that although American newspaper journalism seems “self-reverential, long-winded, over-edited and stuffy”, it does have an advantage over its British counterpart in that the Americans “take the idea of journalism as a civic duty much more seriously”.

With a foot on each side of the pond, I don’t really want to get into the cross-Atlantic contrast exactly. The cited Reuters Foundation report on “The Power of the Commentariat”, showing that UK commentators don’t regard themselves as powerful is more interesting, as it touches on something that goes beyond commentators to editors and others who decide what becomes a story and what doesn’t.

Many media gatekeepers I talk to also seem to ignore the reality of the power they hold, or, if they accept they do indeed have some, will then not make the connection between power and responsibility.

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