“A strong plurality of visual typographic styles and rhetorical strategies emerged after the war in Beirut. Lebanese are so sensitive now about the ethnic hatred which sparked off the war that they have been reluctant to speak up about it, yet they are tagging the streets of the city with slogans as a means of expression.
In this presentation Yasmine Taan analyses how ‘untrained designers/typographers’ have chosen the appropriate ‘typefaces’ whose diverse styles powerfully reflect the context of their messages, giving voice to the political aspirations of the inhabitants.”
A preface to this can be seen in the images of political posters in the American University of Beirut Jafet Library Poster Collection.
The posters were collected from the 1960s through the 1980s, before and during the war, from their original sources and from the American University of Beirut campus where they were posted. The collection covers two main topics: the Palestinian Question, and Lebanon and the Lebanese Civil War.
A few images are online, organized as follows:
From the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July/August 2001:
“You might think that a senior U.S. senator — let’s say the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — would be able to get straight answers about the [Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP]. But that wasn’t the case when Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska asked for details about the targeting plan. Congress and the president are tasked by the Constitution with a vital role in determining national security policy, ‘but how can we provide the policy guidance that is needed,’ the former senator asked last October in a letter to then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, ‘if we are not given the information we need to decide if our current course of action is the correct one?’
Specifically, Kerrey wanted a peek at the SIOP, which directs how U.S. nuclear forces will be used in any number of crises. One might assume it includes targets, population figures, force numbers, weapon specs, and so forth. But that would be a guess, since nobody outside a small military circle has seen it.
What started Kerrey and other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus on their quest for information was the Joint Chiefs’ claim that the United States could not realistically reduce its number of nuclear warheads below 2,500. They asked: Why that magical number and not some other number? But their questions went unanswered....
‘Anyone who has been doing research in this area has to look at the war plan, the SIOP,’ said [Natural Resources Defense Council] Senior Staff Analyst Robert S. Norris. At an early point in the project, it dawned on him that the difficulty experts have with discussing lower numbers of nuclear weapons was directly related to the war plan itself. If you have a certain number of targets, the plan has to have a corresponding number of warheads to deal with them.... As the project progressed, Norris said they began to hope that they could use the model to show how a smaller number of nuclear weapons — a much smaller number — could be as effective a deterrent as the more than 10,000 we have today.
But rather than pulling some magic number out of a hat, NRDC ran a series of specific scenarios with their program — three of which are published in their report, ‘The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change’ — which allowed them to generate the pictures and maps that illustrate the outcomes visually.
‘We couldn’t have done this 10 years ago,’ Norris said. ‘Advances in satellite imagery and computers, greater information about Russia in general, and increased access to information have made it possible. We hope people can use this program to reflect more deeply about the SIOP problem, and we want to show how the SIOP prevented progress [in arms reductions] during the Clinton administration. Our goal is to change the circumstances that will allow us to live in a safer world.’...
In the earliest days of the Cold War, the United States mainly targeted large cities. But as the number of missiles grew, it eventually had enough warheads to target individual Soviet weapons and bases, and military targeteers took the position that a strategy targeting weapons and not people — counterforce — was more ‘moral.’
Just one problem. If you lob enough nukes to take out the Kozelsk missile fields more than 200 kilometers west of Moscow (to use one of the examples detailed in the NRDC report), you’re incidentally going to kill millions of people. So while counterforce doesn’t target people, per se, millions of civilians are still at risk.
‘After we did our analysis,’ Cochran said, ‘it raised some interesting issues about countervalue versus counterforce. For example, if you can hold at risk one-third of Russia’s population with a single submarine, you can go to very deep reductions without feeling naked in the absence of your deterrent capability.’
So when talking about the morality of any nuclear targeting strategy one thing quickly becomes clear: It’s all horrific. NRDC takes the extra step of presenting these scenarios graphically so the public, and not just experts, can understand the results....
According to Bruce Blair, while there are many models of strategic nuclear exchanges, they don’t take the step that the NRDC model has taken to provide graphic representations of targets and the consequences of an attack that you can appreciate visually. By putting a human face onto an abstraction, NRDC’s model helps people ‘understand the war plan and its consequences. Then they can decide for themselves if it represents proof of certain views,’ he said. ‘It is an important advance in both our ability to grasp the war plan and its consequences, because it converts abstraction into graphic consequences. And that’s very important, just to be able to see all those red dots on the map.’
Most strategic exchange models produce only numbers, not maps and graphic representations, Blair explained. The NRDC model ‘is the first one that’s in circulation in the arms control community that does this. It’s a flexible model that allows us to jigger the assumptions and test our hunches about alternative war plans.’
The impact on policy-makers could be profound, he noted. To see the plan unfold and the casualty numbers mount using a reliable model could give people a fuller grasp of the issue.
And armed with this kind of knowledge, Blair says, policy-makers could start demanding to learn more about the actual war plan, ‘to expose it to the light of day, at least within the vaults of Congress,’ and to push for reform and reduction....
For example, one of the striking calculations that Senator Kerrey noticed when he saw a demonstration of the NRDC program was the number of casualties that can be caused by a single Trident submarine firing its load at a Russian civilian population. Even though this is no longer how the United States targets its missiles, he could see that if the object was to kill people, one Trident submarine could kill more than 40 million. ‘That’s a striking result,’ Blair said. ‘And then you can pursue other variations that are interesting questions. It’s just a very practical, convenient, expedient tool — one that is as refined as it needs to be — to expose the many facets of nuclear targeting. It just reveals information, and there’s no real counter to it. There’s no antidote to the truth.’
Janne Nolan hopes that the NRDC model will also be used by journalists, who often find the intricacies of nuclear targeting beyond their scope. She points out that if you look at the period of time spanning START I and START II, military planners have gone from an ‘absolute’ requirement for 6,700 weapons down to 4,500, then to 3,500, and now 2,500. ‘And very few reporters ask where these numbers come from and what they mean,’ she said. ‘The assumptions that guide the calculations of how many weapons you need on target haven’t been subject to any systematic policy oversight for decades.’...
Cochran believes the interactivity of their model will distinguish their project from the many other policy projects out there. He also believes that if they can replicate closely what Stratcom is doing, people will pay attention. ‘There’s a zillion people putting out policy papers that just stack up on your bookshelf,’ he says. Early on, NRDC established credibility in the arms control community by publishing its series of Nuclear Weapons Databooks, which detailed force numbers in way that had never before been revealed. ‘Until you pry open the secrecy it can be very hard to prevail in these arms control debates. This is the last big secret. We want to expose Stratcom’s calculations and numbers so the public and Congress can understand the war plan and its implications.’
They also hope their work will force the government and arms controllers to defend their numbers, so that if someone says the United States needs 1,000 warheads, they’re forced to back it up, especially when talking about a modern-day Russia that has seen a sharp decline in its military infrastructure. For example, Cochran asked, ‘Why do we still have to take out a war industry when it’s collapsed of its own accord?...’
In the end, Cochran wants the United States to treat Russia just like any other country and eliminate the day-to-day SIOP operations that keep U.S. missiles poised for a nuclear first strike. ‘We’re saying take a grand leap to get out of this counterforce mode — even in the interim — and see if the other side matches.’”
The year 1960 marks a turning point in the history of technology and politics. The Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate was the first to be broadcast live on television. Kennedy’s telegenic composure and appeal is credited with tipping the vote in his favor. In 1960 ninety percent of U.S. households owned a television. For the first time, Americans in 1963 say that they get more of their news from television than newspapers. Television becomes an increasingly important source of information and enormous cultural force in the United States marking the assassination of President Kennedy, the rise of the Beatles, landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth, I Love Lucy, Sesame Street, the Olympics, news of the war in Viet Nam, the Watergate hearings, the Watts riot, Star Trek, and the mini-series Roots. [source]
However, it would be at least another decade before millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans could begin to participate.
From the National Captioning Institute:
“The first innovators were not thinking about a captioning system for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. In 1970 the [U.S.] National Bureau of Standards began to investigate the possibility of using a portion of the network television signal to send precise time information on a nationwide basis. The Bureau believed that it could send digitally encoded information in a part of the television signal that is not used for picture information. The ABC-TV network agreed to cooperate. This project didn’t work, but ABC suggested that it might be possible to send captions instead.
This led to a preview of captioning at the First National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1971. Two possible technologies for captioning television programs were demonstrated that would display the captions only on specially equipped sets for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
A second demonstration of closed captioning was held at Gallaudet College on February 15, 1972. ABC and the National Bureau of Standards presented closed captions embedded within the normal broadcast of Mod Squad.
As a result of the enthusiasm these demonstrations created in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, the National Association of Broadcasters studied the technical and economic factors involved in establishing a captioning service. The Association concluded that this captioning system was technically possible, but certain steps had to be taken before it could become a reality. The federal government then said it would fund the development and testing of this system. The engineering department of the Public Broadcasting System started to work on the project in 1973 under contract to the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).
While the closed-captioning service was being developed, there were some programs with ‘open’ captions airing on PBS. In 1971, The French Chef became the very first television program that was accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. The ABC News was rebroadcast on PBS five hours after its broadcast on ABC-TV. From the time the captioned ABC News was first produced in 1973, it was the only timely newscast accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing people until NCI’s real-time captioning service started in 1982....
Toward the end of the technical development project at PBS, it became clear that in order to get the cooperation of the commercial television networks, it would be necessary to establish a nonprofit, single-purpose organization to perform this captioning. And so in 1979, HEW announced the creation of the National Captioning Institute. The mission and importance of NCI was clear from the beginning. It was to promote and provide access to television programs for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community through the technology of closed captioning.
On March 16, 1980, NCI broadcast the first, closed-captioned television series. The captions were seen in households that had the first generation of closed caption decoder.
A silence had been broken. For the first time ever, deaf people across America could turn on their television sets — with a caption decoder — and finally understand what they had been missing on television.
The closed-captioned television service was an overnight sensation. Suddenly, thousands of people who had been living in a world of silence could enjoy television programs along with hearing people....
NCI ensured a bright future for closed-captioned television by partnering with ITT Corporation in 1989 to develop the first caption-decoding microchip, which could be built directly into new television sets at the manufacturing stage. This led to the introduction and subsequent passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act, which mandated that, by mid-1993, all new television sets 13 inches or larger manufactured for sale in the U.S. must contain caption-decoding technology. Now, millions of people have access to captions with the push of a button on their remote controls.”
From a more recent Captioning FAQ:
“On August 7, 1997, the FCC unanimously approved new regulations which will mandate captioning on virtually all television programming in the United States. Section 305 of the Telecommunication Act of 1996 is being implemented as a new section (Section 713) of the existing Communications Act. On September 17, 1998, the FCC modified their rules, in what can be considered a victory for caption viewers. The ruling took effect on January 1st, 1998, and it phases in requirements separately for ‘old’ and ‘new’ programming.”
Though numerous studies have shown that mixed-case text is easier to read than all uppercase, virtually all captioning in North America is done in uppercase only. The resolution of NCSA television and caption decoders generally results in ugly and illegible lowercase letters.
“[However,] mixed-case text is often used to indicate whispering, and is also often used for text that needs to be set apart, such as comments by an off-screen announcer (voice-over), or sound effects.
Caption decoders and televisions were not required by law to support lowercase letters at all until just a few years ago. There are, therefore, some televisions that will change mixed-case text to all uppercase.” [source]
Now, with the introduction of digital television, the design of the typeface for subtitling is no longer constrained by the technology of analog television.
This new digital environment provides for larger screens, higher screen resolutions, enhanced closed captions, and higher transmission data rates for closed-captioning.
Enter Tiresias Screenfont, a typeface for television subtitling designed for maximum legibility. Development of the typeface included extensive user testing with viewers that had a wide range of visual abilities and viewing habits.
The Tiresias Screenfont was originally designed by a team led by Dr. John Gill, Chief Scientist for the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
“The typeface Tiresias Screenfont was originally designed for subtitling on UK digital television in 1998.... It has been specifically designed for screen display and has been adopted by the UK Digital Television Group as the resident font for interactive television. Screenfont is now being adopted for European digital television. Its use is also being considered in the USA.
Tiresias Screenfont has been designed to have characters that are easy to distinguish from each other. The design was carried out, with specific reference to persons with visual impairments, on the philosophy that good design for visually impaired persons is good design for everybody.”
Both font and philosophy have been taken from the television screen and applied to the public terminal, the built environment, and the printed page.
Other variations of Tiresias Screenfont have since been designed, each optimized for a specific purpose:
Tiresias PCfont is a typeface designed to display clearly on screen based systems, such the information displayed on TV monitors on public transport, at airports, railways or ferry terminals. Building societies and banks use screens to display information on cash dispensers. Many governments are now introducing screen-based public information systems in libraries and government offices. Tiresias PCfont makes these services and facilities more accessible.
Tiresias Infofont is designed to improve the legibility of information labels on public access terminals, ticket machines, telephone booths. The characters and letterforms have been designed to provide maximum legibility at a reading distance of around 30 to 100 cm. Infofont is not designed for large quantities of text.
Tiresias Signfont is for fixed (not internally illuminated) signage. The recommended usage is white or yellow characters on a dark background. Tiresias Signfont has a different level of boldness than Screenfont and PCfont, and has more open spacing than conventional type. Signfont is designed to provide maximum readability at longer distances.
Tiresias LPfont is designed for use in large print publications, and to be more legible than the standard typefaces that are currently in large print publications.
The Tiresias family of fonts are available for sale from Bitstream.
Update October 1, 2003: A couple of hard-of-hearing friends have brought up the petition campaigns that they, their friends, and parents participated in. The text above does understate the grassroots campaign.
“For 20 years, Rini Templeton made drawings of activists in the United States, Mexico and Central America while she joined them in their meetings, demonstrations, picket lines and other actions for social justice. She called her bold black-and-white images ‘xerox art’ because activists and organizers could copy them easily for use in their banners, signs, leaflets, newsletters, even T-shirts, whenever needed.
Her drawings also included workers, women and children, celebrations, scenes of town and country, many images from daily life. In all her work you can feel a unity with grassroots people across national and racial lines. She almost never signed a drawing, out of typical modesty. As a result, her style is widely recognized but her name is not.
Two years after she died in Mexico in 1986, Rini’s work was published in a bilingual book in the U.S. (Real Comet Press, Seattle) and Mexico (Centro de Documentación Gráfica Rini Templeton). Entitled The Art of Rini Templeton: Where There is Life and Struggle/El Arte de Rini Templeton: Donde hay vida y lucha, the U.S. editorial coordinator was Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez. The Mexican team included 5 editors from the Punto Crítico magazine collective together with a production coordinator. All had worked with Rini extensively.
With the book out of print, it was decided to continue making her work available through this web-site. Rini’s sister, Lynne Brickley, made that possible with generous support.
You will find 600 drawings here, organized by theme, with brief texts in English explaining the story behind each set of drawings. There is also a short biography about Rini. Photos of her sculptures, done before she switched to graphic work, are not included here nor are the many reminiscences of Rini written by friends and co-workers for the book.
In the spirit of Rini Templeton’s life and work, activists serving causes that Rini would have supported are invited to use drawings freely in their leaflets, newsletters, banners and picket signs or for similar non-commercial purposes. Those wishing to use drawings in the production of an item for sale, such as a book, should write to the Rini Templeton Memorial Fund, c/o Elizabeth Martinez, 3545 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. A reasonable fee will be asked, to help maintain this web-site.”
On September 15, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and ordered the California gubernatorial recall election postponed.
Whitney Quesenbery, Director of Outreach, of the Usability Professionals’ Association Voting and Usability project has posted some selected excerpts from the text of the decision relating to design, voting systems, effectiveness, and usability:
“In this case, Plaintiffs allege that the fundamental right to have votes counted in the special recall election is infringed because the pre-scored punchcard voting systems used in some California counties are intractably afflicted with technologic dyscalculia. They claim that the propensity for error in these voting systems is at least two and a half times greater than for any other voting technology used in California. The effect is not trivial....
These counties [using the old machines] comprise 44% of the total electorate. They include the most populous county in the State and the county in which the state capitol is located.
Plaintiffs tendered evidence showing that 40,000 voters who cast ballots in these counties would not have their votes counted because of technological defects in the pre-scored punchcard voting system. It is perhaps ironic that the sitting governor could well cast a vote on his own recall that would not be tallied. Many candidates seeking to replace him would face a similar risk. Plaintiffs also allege that the affected counties contain a significantly higher percentage of minority voters than the other counties, causing a disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority voters....
Plaintiffs argue that the use of defective voting systems creates a substantial risk that votes will not be counted. In addition, they claim that the use of defective voting systems in some counties and the employment of far more accurate voting systems in other counties denies equal protection of the laws by impermissibly diluting voting strength of the voters in counties using defective voting systems. In short, the weight given to votes in non-punchcard counties is greater than the weight given to votes in punchcard counties because a higher proportion of the votes from punchcard counties are thrown out. Thus, the effect of using punchcard voting systems in some, but not all, counties, is to discriminate on the basis of geographic residence....
No voting system is foolproof, of course, and the Constitution does not demand the use of the best available technology. However, what the Constitution does require is equal treatment of votes cast in a manner that comports with the Equal Protection Clause. Like the Supreme Court in Bush, “[t]he question before [us] is not whether local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections.” 531 U.S. at 109. Rather, like the Supreme Court in Bush, we face a situation in which the United States Constitution requires “some assurance that the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied.”...
Independent research confirms the error difference between pre-scored punchcard systems and others in use. The July 2001 Report of the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project (“Caltech-MIT Report”) studied the residual vote rates of different voting systems from 1988-2000 in the entire country, and found that punchcards lose significantly more votes than optically scanned paper ballots.
The district court discounted the impact of voting systems on the special election, relying in part on the Secretary of State’s attestation that he would “be undertaking extensive voter education efforts that could have the effect of lowering the residual rate in the upcoming election.” However, Plaintiffs effectively countered this unsupported assertion with statistical evidence showing that voter education was ineffective in counteracting the error rates inherent in the use of prescored punchcard voting systems....
Further, as we shall discuss later, the Secretary of State has already missed statutory deadlines for submitting educational information to voters concerning the initiatives on the ballot....
The State has an interest in holding a fair election - one trusted by the candidates and the voters to yield an accurate and unbiased result. The high error rate associated with the decertified machines to be used by 44 percent of the voters in October would undermine the public’s confidence in the outcome of the election. The margin of victory could well be less than the margin of error in the use of punchcard technology. This would not be the case in an election held in March 2004, when all the obsolete machines will have been totally withdrawn from use. Avoiding an election that promises to dilute the votes of any particular community - let alone communities with a disproportionately high concentration of minority voters - firmly promotes the public interest in a fair election....
There are also some unique pragmatic problems associated with this election that may be alleviated by a short postponement. For example, because of the short timetable established for this election, approximately a quarter of California’s polling places - 5,000 of 20,000 - will not be ready for use and voters will be forced to vote at a different polling place. This has the potential of creating substantial voter confusion on election day. Further, the sheer number of gubernatorial candidates — there are currently 135 names on the October 2003 ballot — will make operation of the plastic guide substantially more cumbersome to use, potentially compounding the inherent problems in its use....
In addition to the public interest factors we have discussed, we would be remiss if we did not observe that this is a critical time in our nation’s history when we are attempting to persuade the people of other nations of the value of free and open elections. Thus, we are especially mindful of the need to demonstrate our commitment to elections held fairly, free of chaos, with each citizen assured that his or her vote will be counted, and with each vote entitled to equal weight. A short postponement of the election will accomplish those aims and reinforce our national commitment to democracy....
A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees.”
From The Miami Herald, August 24, 2003:
Twenty months after it opened as a short-term solution early in America’s war on terrorism, this much-criticized military detention and interrogation camp is evolving from wire mesh to concrete.
The hastily erected Camp Delta for ‘enemy combatants’ will make a significant leap toward permanence with a previously undisclosed fifth phase that will be hard-sided and take a year to build, The Herald has learned.
Workers are also retrofitting a makeshift courtroom in case some of the 660 detainees from 42 countries, most of them suspected al Qaeda members or Taliban soldiers captured in Afghanistan, are tried before a military commission.
The developments suggest that the Bush administration is literally pouring concrete around its controversial policy of indefinitely holding alleged terrorists and supporters in legal limbo, without prisoner-of-war rights.
‘[This] should exist as long as the global war on terrorism is ongoing if it helps our nation and our allies win,’ said camp commander Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. ‘We are exceptionally good at developing intelligence that will help defeat the scourge of terrorism.’
Many legal scholars and human rights groups continue to argue that the policy unnecessarily bends U.S. law and undermines the stability of the Geneva Conventions when instead the existing legal system could be modified to meet intelligence security needs.
But calls to change the approach seem increasingly moot as workers throw up ever more durable structures, also including dormitory housing for 2,000 soldiers here.
The new ‘Camp Five’ will take three times longer to build than the four existing camps, which are made from wire mesh and metal atop concrete slabs, with chain-link fences and wood towers.
‘It is a hard-sided concrete building,’ Miller said. ‘Unfortunately, we have to ship everything into Guantánamo Bay by sea, and it takes time to get the materials down here.’
The contractor is Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, Texas-based Halliburton. The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says the subsidiary received $1.3 billion in government business last year — much of it, like this, without having to enter a bid.
Halliburton referred questions to Navy public affairs officer John Peters, who said via e-mail that Camp Five will have about 24,000 square feet when completed in mid-2004. It was part of a $25 million task order issued June 6.
Miller said it will increase Camp Delta’s detainee capacity by 100, to 1,100, but its main purpose will be ‘an enlargement of our ability to do interrogations’ — now conducted in trailers at the camp’s edge.
Told of the development, Wendy Patten of Human Rights Watch wondered about the implication of an interrogation facility that included cells.
‘It’s interesting they chose to frame it as an interrogation facility,’ Patten said. ‘Does it become the camp to house the people who are the subject of the more intensive interrogations, or whose cooperation they haven’t been able to obtain?’
Patten also said the news of ‘a commitment to a level of permanence we haven’t seen up to now’ likely means that analysis of detainee releases has been wrong. Some commentators have said the military may have decided to draw down the numbers held here.
Sixty-four have been released and four transferred to Saudi Arabia for continued detention, said Maj. John Smith, a military spokesman.
Yale Law School professor Harold Koh, who represented Cuban and Haitian migrants at the Guantánamo base in 1994-95, said by phone that the construction means ‘we are just getting further and further in’ to an alternative justice system outside the rule of law and unauthorized by Congress.
‘If everyone thought about where this is leading us, they might have doubts about whether this is where we want to go,’ Koh said. ‘We have set up an offshore prison camp in an extrajudicial zone where people have no rights, and we assume no one is going to follow our lead....’
For example, he noted, Indonesia is now building an island detention camp for alleged rebels.
President Bush has named six detainees eligible for trial. None has been charged.
Should the military commission trials go forward, those at Guantánamo would take place in a former control tower once slated for demolition. Its airstrip was left unusably pitted by tents during the last rafter crisis.
Formerly known as ‘the Pink Palace,’ the humble headquarters annex has been repainted yellow in anticipation of intense global scrutiny.
Its windows are blocked, but Smith said the inside has a traditional layout and cherrywood furniture. There has been no order to build an execution chamber, Miller said.
Across the bay, a new media center with 22 Internet ports and two plasma television sets is nearly complete. Smith said that a pool of reporters would be allowed into the commission chamber and that others would watch via closed-circuit TV.
The base can house 174 visiting reporters, diplomats, officials and others in the event of trials. But the numbers may not be swelled much by civilian defense attorneys, who can volunteer to assist the assigned military defense counsel at their own expense.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys has said it would be ‘unethical’ to appear under rules that allow monitoring of attorneys’ conversations with clients and retrials for acquitted defendants.
The American Bar Association has also expressed reservations, singling out a rule that bars civilian lawyers from seeing classified evidence even though they are required to obtain top-secret clearance.
Left unanswered is what will become of those against whom there is insufficient evidence for trial but who may be deemed too dangerous to free.”
See this previous blog entry on Camp Delta.
Found via probelog
Women in Eritrea are spreading a more efficient stove design across the country. The new design requires less fuel, retains more heat, and produces less smoke — dramatically reducing respiratory and eye diseases, conserving the forest, and requiring less time for gathering fuel and for cooking.
“An innovative scheme to convert 500,000 traditional injera stoves across Eritrea will cut thousands of tons of carbon emissions each year and help to conserve the country’s precious supply of firewood.
For centuries, injera — a pancake-like food widely eaten in Eritrea — has been cooked on simple clay stoves, built over an open fire. However, the stoves are smoky, dangerous and require a substantial amount of firewood to burn effectively.
But scientists at the ministry of energy believe they have found a solution. By making a few simple design changes they have increased the efficiency and safety of the stoves — known as mogoggos — by over 100 percent.
‘We have added a chimney, so that smoke no longer fills the kitchen, and an insulated firebox to conserve heat,’ Afeworki Tesfazion, the ministry’s research director, told IRIN. ‘We have also improved ventilation, to allow the fire to burn better, so that it uses 50 percent less fuel.’ He said the new stove also burns a wider range of fuels, such as animal dung, twigs and leaves.
The ministry estimates that each new stove reduces carbon emissions by 0.6 of a ton annually and saves 366 kg of firewood per household each year. The government hopes that every one of the 500,000 households currently thought to own a stove in Eritrea will convert to the new style. If this happens the environmental savings would be enormous.
The health benefits are also significant. Without the thick smoke pouring into their kitchens, women and children are less likely to suffer from the respiratory diseases and eye problems that affected many who used the old stoves.
The new mogoggo is already proving popular. In a scheme run by the government and backed by small grants... dozens are being built in villages around the country every week. More than 5,000 households have already converted.
Under the scheme, village women are taught how to build the stoves themselves. They then teach other women, who teach others and so on. With free labour and free materials — the stoves are made of clay and rocks, which are easily available everywhere — the only cost is the accessories. Metal chimney caps, valves and doors, as well as clay fire grates and cement chimneys, are mostly made locally.
One village taking part is Mehiyaw, in Debub region, close to Eritrea’s southern border. Nearly half of the 160 households in Mehiyaw have already installed new mogoggos. Others in the village hope to do so soon.
Standing in her small, neat kitchen, Miriam Amman, proudly shows off her work. Miriam, a mother of six children, built the stove with help from women from another village one week ago. ‘I love it because there is no smoke in here anymore,’ she says. ‘My clothes are clean and the children can play in here while I cook. Before now nobody would come into the kitchen while the stove was lit. Also we use less wood, so I spend less time gathering it.’
The biggest challenge faced by the government now is to let people know about the new stoves — and persuade them to convert as soon as possible....
The government is setting up a credit plan, to enable families to borrow money to build the stoves now — about US $8 each — and repay the loan when they can afford it. It estimates that the next stage of the project, including training the women and the credit scheme, will cost a further $500,000.
But so far, customers appear satisfied. In Mehiyaw, a group of Miriam Amma’s neighbours and friends crowd into her kitchen to admire her stove . It is larger and more elevated than the old fireplace, which required women — who do all the cooking in traditional Eritrean households — to bend low while preparing food.
In the small outdoor kitchen the stove is alight, but the air is clear. One woman points out the smoke-blackened corrugated tin roof, a reminder of Miriam’s old stove.
‘At first nobody wanted these new mogoggos,’ said Miriam. ‘But now they have seen how well they work, everybody wants one.’”
via the Ashden Awards
Rabble reports from the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun:
“...More amazing is what the WTO is doing to prevent speech which is specifically aimed at making the WTO uphold it’s own democratic processes between countries. Some NGO’s have created special badge holders which say ‘Explicit Consensus’ in a number of different languages. The argument is that the WTO can not get an agreement or declaration just because countries aren’t about to voice opposition at exactly the right time, but they must rather explicitly express consent for any declarations. They say this because often the text is changed in back room deals and many of the poorer countries don’t have the people to have at every meeting. The last time i passed in to the Convention Center, the Security people told me that i could not wear the badge holder and that if i wanted to keep it i must put in in my backpack. It was banned ‘propaganda’.
If the WTO can’t even take such a mild act of criticism along the lines of quietly asking them to make sure every participating country is informed about the decisions they are consenting to, then how can we let the WTO make decisions which govern 97% of the world’s population?”
Yuri Matrosovich has a collection of 34 anti-alcohol posters from Russia on his Web site. The posters date from the early 1980’s, mostly from a ‘propaganda pack’ one could get when one joined a special anti-alcohol society. In those years, he writes, one was pushed to be a member.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev launched a massive anti-alcohol campaign in the Soviet Union. The goal was not just to reduce alcohol consumption by the population, but to sharply decrease state production and sale of alcoholic beverages, to suppress the production of illicit alcohol, and ultimately, to raise worker productivity and buttress the economy.
Though the campaign fizzled out by 1988 and is generally derided today, this study charts the impact on both alcohol consumption and overall mortality in the Soviet Union.
Annual per capita alcohol consumption dropped from 14.2 liters in 1984 to 10.5 liters in 1986. Overall mortality declined from 1161.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 1984 to 1054.0 in 1986.
This was also during the social upheaval brought on by Gorbachev’s reforms, aka perestroika. Following this, in the period of the “market reforms” both alcohol consumption and overall mortality increased sharply. By 1997, per capita consumption had returned to the initial level of the early 1980’s.
The authors of the study estimate that 1.22 million people were spared between 1986 and 1991, 11.4% of the number of deaths expected without the anti-alcohol campaign.
Two more of my favorites:
“The Reason — Drunkenness!”
“Alcohol — Enemy of Production”
From the Boston Review:
“During the nineties the PT built on earlier electoral successes by developing a strong record of administrative competence at the local level. Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, was the PT’s first great administrative acheivement. In 1990 the PT municipal government introduced ‘participatory budgeting,’ a form of public deliberation on budget priorities with more than 20,000 people participating annually, which quickly emerged as an effective approach to distributing basic public goods — roads, sewers, clean water — at the local level. Participatory budgeting was extended to 103 cities in 1997, and it has been adopted as policy by other political parties in Brazil. In 1994 Cristovam Buarque, the newly elected PT governor of the Federal District, introduced a program called Bolsa Escola, a sort of minimum-revenue policy for poor families with children who attend school. In 1996 participatory budgeting won the United Nations Habitat Award, and Bolsa Escola has also won several international awards.”
“Resource allocation through PB [participatory budgeting] is decided by community representatives, generally from low-income districts. Each city adopts different formats to define investment criteria, to select community representatives and deal with the city government, its bureaucracy and the city councilors. In general, community representatives get together to decide on priorities. There are distributive criteria to assure a progressive distribution of the resources so that poorer areas receive more funding than the well off ones, regardless of what the representatives want. PB affects mostly decisions on infrastructure investment, not the entire budget. Moreover, authorization of expenditure on priorities is a function of the executive; PB allocates budget to agreed priorities.”
“The need for reflection and listening that is part of the job for those who work in communication design is today of vital importance. And it is for this reason that the AIAP has started this site and program as a new step in its operating policy, which in recent years has attentively investigated the professionalism, and above all, the discipline of this field. These two levels are inseparable if one truly believes in the maturation of this profession.
Our idea is simple: we want to build a series of on-line constellations around the association’s institutional site, which will continue to be the gravitational center of the network. A series of sites which approach pertinent professional topics in a thorough way. Themes which we have already confronted in part, but which can no longer be included our site and the ‘ordinary’ activity of the association. But not only this — these themes need to be looked at in a new light and with all the potential that new technologies offer us.
In our most recent meeting in Riccione we made a first stab at this new approach. Participation in the AIAP Community was very high because it was a sort of meeting place. A place for listening, where ideas flowed and communication was direct and friendly. It was a time for growth for a ‘community’ of designers.
It is along these lines that this new site was born. We have dedicated a fundamental part to the future and to something we have worked on a lot in these past years: the theme of the ethical horizon of the profession. Above all this working site, open to your contributions, will try to understand what the social dimension of communication design is. And so we start by asking a few questions:
Is social design a sustainable project? Is is an ethical project? Is it ecological? Participatory? Political? Or is it something completely different? Our wish is to build together a well thought-out answer. We would like to construct a sort of manifesto, a ‘bill of social design.’
Along these lines we will construct materials, documentation, reflections — a rich and complete database for research, instruction, continuing education. Also for this purpose we are requesting submissions and active participation in order to document projects and experiences which aid in reflection, which communicate the elevated meaning of designing.
But the heart of the project, and the part which we have already put into motion is the construction of testimony and presentations on daily themes, concrete instances, based on news, a life lived, personal research or information to be shared. In other words a place where, with a sense of responsibility and motivated participation on the part of the user, we can dialogue, exchange ideas, listen and grow together, developing a more critical and intense eye which, through these exchanges, will allow us to become responsible designers. Skilled, in quality and intelligence, in confronting professional themes with the knowledge of our own limits and those of the world around us. It is hope in a project, it is our new challenge.”
It’s also intertesting to see more professional associations exploring the issue of ethical practice. I wonder how far it will go.
“The Bronx Community Paper Company (BCPC) — a joint project of the Bronx-based Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council is an innovative effort to harness New York City’s ‘urban forest,’ which includes the 1.2 million tons of paper the city throws out every year, by building a paper de-inking and newsprint production facility in the city....
The end result will achieve several important objectives: creation of hundreds of long-term jobs; reduction of the City of New York’s costs for disposing of wastepaper; revitalization of an abandoned industrial tract in the inner city; and protection of forests....
Throughout the development process, the BCPC kept the public continually informed on the project’s progress. In fact, during the environmental licensing process, the BCPC held over 120 public meetings with members of the South Bronx community, although by law a developer is only required to hold one...
With all legal, political and environmental issues behind them, only two major tasks for the BCPC remain — securing a deal with a paper company to operate the plant, and, of course, building the mill.”
Facilities for the BCPC were to be built on the Harlem River Rail Yard, a brownfield site requiring environmental remediation. The mill was to produce 2,200 jobs during construction and more than 600 permanent full-time jobs during operation.
In 1997, the Department of Energy posted a glowing review of the project as a “sustainable business success story”:
Banana Kelly was founded in 1977 when thirty residents gathered to stop the demolition of their homes along Kelly Street, a crescent shaped block in the heart of the Longwood/Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx. Without support, tools, money, title to the property, they succeeded in rehabilitating the buildings and in creating 21 units of high-quality affordable housing. The activists formed the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc. to continue the work that they had started. Since 1978, the organization has rehabilitated, weatherized, and managed thousands of housing units, provided service referral and housing advocacy, conducted education and job training, and attracted the first new health care clinic in the community in 22 years.
Revenue from the Bronx Community Paper Company was to fund other community development projects in the neighborhood, including:
But by 2000 the project had folded.
From The New York Times, August 17, 2003
‘Bronx Ecology’: Green, Rocky Road
“In 1992, Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, proposed building a paper mill in the South Bronx. It would harvest the immense amount of wastepaper (used newspapers, junk mail, office detritus) New York City generates each day, recycle it into newsprint using ecologically sound methods and sell the product to local consumers, notably newspapers. Such a mill would address two city woes: the continuing slump, particularly severe in places — like the South Bronx — long dependent on the shrinking manufacturing sector (joblessness there hovered around 20 percent, 50 percent for teenagers); and the loss of traditional outlets for the city’s waste stream (ocean dumping, hauling to putrid landfills and burning in dioxin-spewing plants).
More grandly, Hershkowitz’s Bronx Community Paper Company would serve as a world-class demonstration project. He wanted to prove the viability of green capitalism — a marriage of economic development and environmental remediation+- to a host of unbelievers in the business world and the environmental movement, who were locked (he believed) in unnecessary combat. Hershkowitz knew the city presented a host of special obstacles to eco-industrialists, but if a mill like this could make it here, he reasoned, it could make it anywhere. He came amazingly close to pulling it off, as ‘Bronx Ecology,’ by Hershkowitz himself, and ‘Tilting at Mills,’ by Lis Harris, for many years a staff writer at The New Yorker, show.
To guarantee good relations with the plant’s neighbors, Hershkowitz found a local sponsor in Banana Kelly, one of the community development corporations that had sprung up in the 70’s, and vested ownership in it. Determined to resuscitate urban brownfields (polluted and abandoned industrial sites), the paper company settled on the derelict Harlem River Rail Yard. And to transform what others saw as waste into valuable raw material — a key precept of the sustainable economy movement — he insisted the mill use recycled water from a nearby sewage treatment plant instead of river water.
Hershkowitz found a receptive Swedish paper company, and with a corporate anchor secured, investment bankers came on board, as did construction companies and engineers. He got Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to design a striking complex. The Natural Resources Defense Council put up seed money and helped clear regulatory hurdles. A bevy of foundations gave predevelopment grants. The state offered loan guarantees and helped with cleanup costs, and the city’s economic development arm provided expertise. On paper, it looked like a half-billion dollar enterprise was taking off.
Almost immediately it slammed into problems.
Businessmen’s support proved fickle: from their perspective Hershkowitz had overburdened the project with costly, time-consuming and risky furbelows on behalf of extraneous, if not alien, social and ecological goals. Worse, when the Swedish firm withdrew (new management wanted to concentrate on European ventures) it proved impossible to find another big paper company, the kind Wall Street would approve (one potential replacement declined after calculating it could clear more than 30 percent in the Bronx, but 40 percent in South Korea). Besides, in the 90’s boom, higher profits were available outside the industry altogether, in tech stocks or hedge funds. After 1992, moreover, the supply of newsprint outran demand, so producers began consolidating; the last thing they wanted was a new plant online.
And there were local competitors. In 1995, an Australian company built a recycling mill on Staten Island and won the right to process up to 50 percent of the city’s wastepaper. Though not in direct competition — it produced liner board (used, for example, for shoe boxes), not newsprint — it lobbied hard against any municipal deal with Hershkowitz, just in case one day it might want the remainder. Also opposing the Bronx project were commercial carters linked to the mob, and waste haulers whose profits were linked to exporting the trash, including giant multinational corporations like Waste Management , whose campaign contributions gave them considerable clout at City Hall. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was already predisposed against the project because the Bronx was the domain of a rival, Fernando Ferrer, though in fact Ferrer too was an opponent, miffed he hadn’t been allowed to pick the participating community groups.
Some of Hershkowitz’s biggest headaches came from his presumed community ally, whose new leadership proved undependable. Other community groups were also on the attack, some because the building trades refused to give construction jobs to neighborhood people, others because they wanted a slice of the development pie. (Once he was told that $70,000 would make his problems go away; when he refused to come across, Hershkowitz says, it was publicly implied that the plant was environmentally genocidal.)
Despite all this, Hershkowitz and the project plowed on, year after year, nimbly escaping one crisis only to tumble into another. Finally, just after having found a large construction company willing to undertake the project, the backers were sued by a rival construction firm (a common way to grab a piece of the action). Now the Natural Resources Defense Council itself wanted out, and its employee off the case. The paper company was handed over to the contractor-developer in 1999 and struggled on one more year before Giuliani pulled the plug....
The real question is how useful his blueprint for a greener future really is. Here, it seems to me, Hershkowitz pulls back from confronting the implications of what he’s laid out, particularly the key question of who exactly might be the agent to make his vision real. It’s clearly not the corporate world: ‘green capitalism’ stands revealed as a patent oxymoron. He urges environmentalists to step forward, but there’s no sign that major environmental groups will soon venture again into eco-industrial waters (certainly not if they read ‘Bronx Ecology’). As for labor, union pension fund managers proved even more conservative than investment bankers.
Hershkowitz comes closest to the mark when he wonders if the state might not expand its role, either building green projects as public works or committing public capital as lead investor. Certainly — pace current free-market pieties — government is capable of ambitious enterprise, viz. the Manhattan Project, the the space program, the Internet and the New Deal. Moreover, putatively private industries (notably pulp and paper, petroleum and highway construction) are, Hershkowitz reminds us, heavily subsidized by various levels of government. Why not be transparent about public investment, and establish a federal development bank like, but better than, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation that underwrote much of the New Deal and World War II? That might yet make Hershkowitz’s bold blueprint a reality.”
The Bronx Community Paper Company may be dead for now, but near by, in Hunt’s Point, a plastics recycling plant is just being planned.
From the Gotham Gazette:
“The concept of gathering signatures on petitions dates back to the late 19th century. It was supposed to help eliminate the political parties’ control of the ballot, according to Douglas Kellner, a commissioner at the Board of Elections. (See timeline of New York election law )
Before that, there were no printed ballots in New York. Voters simply went to the polls and wrote down the candidates of their choice. To instruct voters on who was running, political parties printed up a slate of candidates, which the voters could take with them to the polls.
This system had many problems, one of which was that political parties often printed counterfeit lists of candidates to deceive supporters of the opposition. "A counterfeit ticket would list a few of the party’s prominent candidates - just enough to fool the unwary - with the rest of the names coming from a rival slate," said Kellner.
To clear up the process, the government began in 1880 to print a uniform ballot that would be presented to voters to fill out at the polls on Election Day. Political parties were allowed to nominate their candidates to be listed on the ballot. But in addition, candidates not selected by the party could get on the ballot anyway if they could submit enough signatures from voters.
To ensure that the signatures were valid, a series of rules were put in place - many of which are still used today.
Ironically, these rules set up over a century ago to assure a more open, honest and democratic process of elections have become just the opposite — a powerful tool for political parties and incumbents to maintain their advantage. To these New York politicos, the best elections are those in which there is only one candidate left on the ballot for voters to choose.
Many incumbents, backed by their political party, have teams of lawyers who will go over a challenger’s signatures, line by line, looking for minor mistakes like missing zip codes, misspellings, and voters who have signed petitions not knowing whether they live in the district or not.
In the past, candidates have been knocked off the ballot for such infractions as writing the abbreviation ‘St.’ instead of ‘Street’ or forgetting to staple a cover sheet.
If the person gathering the signatures - called a petitioner - makes a mistake such as forgetting to write the borough on the bottom of the page, all of the signatures that he collected can be thrown out. If enough signatures are declared invalid, a candidate is eliminated.”
In July, the Vatican called on Roman Catholics around the world to oppose the legalisation of marriages between same-sex couples. In response to the Vatican’s campaign, Dutch gay rights organisations have published manual on how to revoke the legal ban on same-sex marriage in your country.
“The 60-page step-by-step booklet, published in Dutch and English, gives a historic overview of the 16-year lobbying process that eventually led the Dutch government to allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot as of April 1, 2001.
It calls on gays all over the world to challenge discriminatory laws and fight for equal rights through the courts.
In a sense it is a how-to manual for gays abroad campaigning for the right to same-sex unions says Henk Krol, editor in chief of the Gaykrant gay weekly, who created the booklet together with gay rights organisation COC Netherlands [the civil rights group that organized the successful lobby.]...
The manual is [also] intended to help authorities abroad see how they can change legislation, [Amsterdam mayor Job] Cohen added.
For gays seeking advice on the possibility of marriage in the Netherlands Krol offers some practical tips in the preface to the booklet.
‘A foreigner living with a Dutch man or woman can marry. Two foreigners living permanently in the Netherlands also have this possibility,’ he writes.
For Europeans living in the European Union it could be possible to claim access to the Dutch institution of civil marriage through the European courts, the text suggests....
The manual is called ‘No gay marriage in the Netherlands’.
Dutch gay rights organisations insist that gay marriage does not exist here because under Dutch law it is the same civil union as is entered into by heterosexual couples. There is no special arrangement for same sex unions.
According to the latest statistics, more than 4,300 same sex couples chose to tie the knot in a civil marriage by 2002.”
The text is not yet available online, though the manual is for sale here.