Friday, July 30, 2021

Lincoln’s Uncertain Decision: Fort Sumter, 1861

On March 5, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, only president for a day, had to make a decision on what to do. Lincoln had a divided cabinet, a divided party, and a divided country. Half of his cabinet wanted war with the newly-formed Confederacy. The other half, led by William Seward, wanted peace.

In his inaugural address, Lincoln attempted to clarify his position regarding Fort Sumter and other federal property in the seceding states. Because the constitution attempted "to form a more perfect union," it follows, Lincoln argued, that the possibility that a state, on its own, could secede would render the constitution less perfect. "I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken" and "that the laws of the Union [will] be faithfully executed in all the States."  Lincoln considered this a "simple duty" that should "not be regarded as a menace" but as an obvious and stated purpose of the Union as expressed in the constitution. "In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority," Lincoln continued. "The power confided to me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion—no using force against, or among the people anywhere." Should a particular place prove utterly hostile to any federal presence in a region, Lincoln promised to forgo any federal presence....

Click to read

Friday, March 12, 2021

Kathleen Folbigg: Could science free Australian jailed for killing babies?

Imagine for a moment what it must feel like if, as a mother, you give birth to four children, one after another, each of whom, as infants, dies from natural causes over a 10-year period.

Then imagine being wrongly accused of smothering them all and being sentenced to 30 years in jail for four terrible crimes you did not commit.

That narrative is emerging as potentially the true story of Kathleen Folbigg, an Australian mother from the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales (NSW).

Branded at her trial in 2003 as "Australia's worst female serial killer", Folbigg has already spent nearly 18 years in prison after being found guilty of the manslaughter of her firstborn Caleb, and the murder of her three subsequent children, Patrick, Sarah and Laura.

Click to read BBC

Saturday, July 11, 2020

International courts ‘more needed than ever’, 25 years after Srebrenica

The now-defunct war crimes tribunal that convicted Bosnian Serb leaders like Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic over the murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys was hailed at the time as a new era of post-Cold War accountability.

Yet the numerous courts set up in its wake now face a litany of problems like low conviction rates, attacks by US President Donald Trump and antagonistic governments, and accusations of racism.

They also need to start giving justice to victims of a new generation of crimes such as the war in Syria, the repression of the Rohingya people in Myanmar and the persecution of the Uighurs in China, experts said.

Click to read

Monday, April 27, 2020

Hungary prepares to end legal recognition of trans people

Hungary's rightwing government looks likely to push through legislation that will end the legal recognition of trans people by defining gender as "biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes" and thus making it impossible for people to legally change their gender.

Trans people and rights activists say the law, which has been introduced into parliament as attention is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, will increase discrimination and intolerance towards trans people. Many will try to leave the country, while those who do not have that chance will face daily humiliations.

"In Hungary, you need to show your ID to rent a bike, buy a bus pass or to pick up a package at the post office. It basically means coming out as trans to complete strangers, all the time. The good version is they are nice about it, but there are situations where people turn quite hostile," said Ivett Ördög, a 39-year-old trans woman living in Budapest.

Click to read


Thursday, March 12, 2020

What is particularly scary about the coronavirus? The chaos it has caused.

Unless you have been living in a well-ventilated cave with no internet, you have heard about novel coronavirus or COVID-19. While coronaviruses have been around for a long time, this newly discovered version has no cure and can be fatal, particularly to the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. While some may find this analogous to the flu, this novel virus is serious enough for some cities and even a country to quarantine their entire population in order to try to control the spread.

It has caused a global panic. While I have tried to stay calm, educate myself, and even joke about the virus, I must admit that it is starting to concern me.

I am not scared of the virus itself. I have done my best to minimize the chances of exposing myself to the virus. That means spending more time working from home. I have encouraged clients to send paperwork via email and the cloud. For those who prefer the old ways, I accept regular mail and offer to reimburse them for postage. Since this is tax season, I and other tax professionals have voluntarily self-quarantined ourselves for the next month and a half.

Click to read

Sunday, December 8, 2019

‘Our sense of belonging within a legal system derives from our relationship to property, real or personal.’

The provocative title statement is approached from two perspectives in this critical discussion. In Part 1, the title statement strengths are reflected by the different ways that property rights have attracted such extensive England and Wales (EW) legal system attention. The accepted real and personal property definitions (as supplemented by modern-day Intellectual Property (IP) rights) lend seemingly compelling support to the view that property rights of all kinds dominate how individuals (persons and companies alike) are connected to the legal system. It is suggested that no sensible person can doubt that property-based relationships have been a core legal system feature for centuries (Choo, 2018, p.394).

In Part 2, an alternative, competing proposition is advanced that raises significant doubts concerning present day title statement accuracy. It has become apparent that human rights concepts are now a dominant (and seemingly pervasive) connection that many people rely upon when claiming a contemporary legal system 'sense of belonging'. European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR) Article 8 privacy and family life guarantees, Article 9 religious belief, and selected EW case law examples are used to support this human rights-based counter-argument. The different property based relationships that exist between the EW legal system and its society remain important. However, these Part 2 examples illustrate how human rights' universality ensures that anyone (including persons without any property rights to assert), can secure effective legal system recognition and rights enforcement in a much wider range of circumstances than more limiting property-based relationships.

Click to read

Sunday, September 1, 2019

New Issue: Journal of Conflict Resolution

The latest issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution (Vol. 63, no. 9, October 2019) is out. Contents include:
  • Articles
    • Richard Traunmüller, Sara Kijewski, & Markus Freitag, The Silent Victims of Sexual Violence during War: Evidence from a List Experiment in Sri Lanka
    • Shanna Kirschner & Adam Miller, Does Peacekeeping Really Bring Peace? Peacekeepers and Combatant-perpetrated Sexual Violence in Civil Wars
    • Emily Kalah Gade, Michael Gabbay, Mohammed M. Hafez, & Zane Kelly, Networks of Cooperation: Rebel Alliances in Fragmented Civil Wars
    • Ursula Daxecker, Jessica Di Salvatore, & Andrea Ruggeri, Fraud Is What People Make of It: Election Fraud, Perceived Fraud, and Protesting in Nigeria
    • Patricia Justino & Bruno Martorano, Redistributive Preferences and Protests in Latin America
    • Marina G. Petrova, What Matters Is Who Supports You: Diaspora and Foreign States as External Supporters and Militants' Adoption of Nonviolence
    • Yoram Z. Haftel & Stephanie C. Hofmann, Rivalry and Overlap: Why Regional Economic Organizations Encroach on Security Organizations

    • Click to read