Wednesday 28 March 2012

Fight Crime, Invest in Kids

Fight Crime, Invest in Kids (California) is an association of Police Chiefs, District Attorneys and survivors of violent crime opposed to education cuts in California, particularly in respect of pre-school education.

They draw upon an impressive body of research among impoverished African-American youngsters in Michigan to support their contention that pre-school education appears to lead to lower levels of offending and higher levels of achievement in later life.

To learn more, see my posting from earlier today, `Meanwhile, Back in the States #4`, at .

Quotation Station

"If we like a man`s dream, we call him a refomer ; if we don`t like his dream, we call him a crank." -

W D Howells, American writer.

Howells was one of the first to join the newly-formed NAACP in 1909. W E B Du Bois was to state that  "When a band of earnest men spoke for Negro emancipation, William Dean Howells was among the first to sign the call."

Thursday 15 March 2012

Celebrating the Commonwealth 2012

Usually refered to simply as `The Commonwealth`, the Commonwealth of Nations came into being as the countries which formerly made up the British Empire gained independence.

The old arrangement was replaced by an association of sovereign nations, one that still exists today.

Unlike other international organisations, it is not designed according to a blueprint but has been allowed to evolve and member nations retain their independence whilst choosing to remain `in association` with each other. You may feel that this compares favourably with some of the other international forums.

It will never be a fashionable organisation, and yet it has survived for decades and of those nations eligible to join, most choose to do so. There are at present 54 member states containing 2 billion citizens and accounting for 20% of world trade.

That`s enough background, now on to the main event.

Commonwealth Day (the second Monday in March) has now expanded to become Commonwealth Week, a series of events which this year included a Celebrating the Commonwealth concert in London  by jazz bods Hugh Masekela and  Zara McFarlane, hosted by comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli.

This year`s theme is `Connecting Cultures`, and this theme was explored by H M Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth  and Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General in their Commonwealth Day messages.

There are numerous Commonwealth-related websites, but here are a few that may be of interest ;

The Commonwealth Secretariat -

The Commonwealth Foundation -

Friends of the Commonwealth -

Not everything about the Commonwealth is perfect.

Last year the UK Dept for International Development rated the Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) as performing poorly in it`s aid programmes. However, it acknowledged that the CS "could play a key role in strengthening democracy and supporting development ...and in making the Commonwealth`s voice heard on global issues" but found that the C S`s programmes "are thinly spread over many interest areas and it`s potential is not being realised."

The two organisations have since agreed, despite some areas of disagreement, to achieve an improvement. To me, an organisation whose works are independently assessed and in which  agreed programmes of reform are pursued within a disciplined framework, is preferable to some (not all) Non Government Organisations who have no real system of evaluation and often see no need for one.

In January 2011, Conservative politician William Hague, in his capacity as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, called for a "reinvigorated Commonwealth" and praised it`s "unique character" and often "unsung achievements".

 Despite it`s imperfections, I have to agree with him.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

In Print and Online ; Land Grab in Liberia ?

"Hundreds of  villagers and town residents of Liberia`s Grand Cape Mount Country have attracted nationwide attention in their bid to recover what they say is land seized from them and turned over to a Malaysian agro-industrial concern.

A petition sent to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf`s office in January by the aggrieved people`s political representatives demanded the return of their land."

A very fair and balanced account of the dispute can be found here ;

Unsigned - Liberia : Land Grab or Development Opportunity ? 17 February 2012 at .

Quotation Station ; Olympia Snowe

"In a politically diverse nation, only by finding...common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly I do not see it happening in the near future.

For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honour in consensus-building - but also a political reward for following these tenets."

Olympia Snowe, American politician.

Olympia Snowe, a US Senator with 17 years experience, decided to forego another term in the Senate recently. This quote comes from her article `Olympia Snowe ; Why I`m Leaving the Senate` which appeared on 2 March 2012 in the Washington Post ( .

This blog takes no interest in party politics and in fact, not being American, I had never even heard of her until this week. The quote is an interesting one, however, and worthy of repetition.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Ann Dummett 1931 - 2012

UK race relations charity The Runnymede Trust has been paying tribute to one of it`s past Directors, Ann Dummett, who died recently ;

Sarah Isal - Ann Dummett 1931 - 2012 ; A True Anti-Racist Advocate -  The Runnymede Blog, 6 March 2012 ( )

Other obituaries can be found here ;

Unsigned - Ann Dummett ; A Champion of Equality, 1 March 2012 at
Ian Martin - Ann Dummett Obituary, 24 Feb 2012 at
Sue Shutter - Ann Dummett Obituary, 10 Feb 2012 at .

For more information on the Runnymede Trust, see my article Racing to Runnymede, posted earlier today at