Wednesday, April 1

G-20 Protest

So today I attended the G-20 protests in the heart of London. I posted a few pictures, most of them not that great, on Facebook, so go check that out if you're so inclined. I'm really glad I went - I obviously don't agree with all of these people on everything, but I think their voices are important, and that attending protests is a healthy thing to do in general. The clashes with police have been reported in the news, and I can say that while the vast majority of protesters were not at all violent, outbursts did happen often enough that in the few hours I was there I saw several of them personally. I was too far back in the crowd to see, but I did hear when the windows of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland were broken, and I saw several people throwing cans of beer and eggs. A friend of mine got closer to the front and saw some clashes with police - according to him, some protesters were throwing bottles at the police and the police were hitting some people with their nightsticks, and at one point one of the protesters took a nightstick out of one of the officer's hands and it got passed through the crowd.

Trying to get in, we got stuck in a large crowd that was being held back by a line of police, but then kind of out of nowhere the crowd decided to sort of surge forward and they broke through the police line, which is how we got into the main protest area. The same thing happened when we were trying to get out - for some reason, we were not being allowed to leave, and people became increasingly frustrated and, after one failed attempt, shoved their way through another police line. Before that, I saw some girl spit in an officer's face - he was not happy about it, but he (and actually the police in general) was impressively restrained. I did see one officer shove a protester who did not appear to be doing anything at all, which I was a little amazed by, and they kind of treated people rudely, but there was more than one occasion I thought they would violently react to the protesters but didn't, so that's good.

I also saw a series of interesting signs, including my favorite one that read, "Down With This Sort of Thing." I have no idea what that means, but I found it hilarious. Other good ones: "CONSUMERS SUCK," "0% Interest in Humanity," "BANKS ARE EVIL," "Afghanistan = LITTLE Britain's Vietnam," etc.

Also, there was a post I wrote a while ago about some live music I saw at a pub. The main act we saw then was a guy named Sean Redmond, who is sort of a Scottish version of Connor Oberst. And we saw him again today, playing a bunch of protest songs. At one point he sang a song which referenced "politicians," saying something bad about them, but when he said "politicians" he stopped singing and said, "except Barack Obama!" which provoked mostly cheers, except for one guy in front of me who shouted, "He's just the same as all the rest, you bloody idiot!"

Oh, plus we walked right by comedian Russell Brand, who was getting followed around by a camera crew, which was pretty cool.

So overall a pretty exciting time.

P.S. Sorry for not posting stuff about my previous travels through Barcelona, Munich, Dublin, and Lisbon, but it was just too overwhelming. Pictures from all of those places are on Facebook, so check those out, and I do plan at the end of the semester to post a sort of recap of everywhere I've been with a paragraph or so on each one, but I doubt I will be writing any sort of comprehensive tale of my travels - it would take more time than it's worth, and it would end up being so long that probably not many people would read all of it. Anyway, I'm leaving tomorrow for Krakow and Prague for the weekend, getting back on Monday morning, and then Wednesday I'm going for Easter Break to Istanbul, where a group of us will be spending 5 full days, which I'm super excited about. So stay tuned on Facebook for pictures from those places, and I may or may not end up writing something up here about that stuff, we'll see.

Wednesday, March 11


I'm in my hostel in Munich at the moment and just posted a couple photo albums on Facebook of Barcelona - it's a lot of photos, so I probably won't end up posting them all here, but at some point I'll try to write up something about how everything went. In the meantime, check Facebook for the pics!

Wednesday, March 4

Plans Update

So I'm about to embark on a fairly lengthy stretch of travel. This weekend is the beginning of spring break, and I'm flying out tomorrow evening to Barcelona, where I'll be staying until Tuesday. I had been planning on doing that bit alone, but as it turns out, Danielle decided to go with some friends as well, so I'll be hanging out with them for most of the time, though they're leaving sooner than I am, so I'll still have Monday to myself. Then I'm flying from Barcelona to Frankfurt, where I'm catching a 3-4 hour train to Munich, where I'll be staying until Friday with Meaghan, Diane and Ari (Australian). Then on Saturday morning we're flying to Dublin, where we're staying until after St. Patrick's day, and then it's back to London on the morning of Wednesday the 18th. Then I'll be heading to Lisbon, which I hadn't been planning on. Danielle had booked this trip to Lisbon for her and her mom, who was going to be visiting, but then her mom unfortunately broke her knee and won't be able to make it out, so she asked if I wanted to go with her since she already had the tickets, and I was down for that. So that will be from the 19th to the 22nd. Which means that with the exception of one day, I'll be out of the country until the 22nd. I know I'll have internet access for at least some of that time, but I don't know if I'll have the time to post anything here - if not, I'll have a ton to post after the 22nd. :-)

Parliament, Trafalgar

A couple days ago there was a law lords hearing at Parliament about a case concerning the UK's system of control orders that my National Security & Human Rights professor encouraged us to see. A bunch of us went, but unfortunately the hearing was in a really small room and a bunch of seats were reserved for other people, so we didn't actually get to see it. But I did, finally, get down to that area of town and grabbed a few pictures while we waited in line to get inside:

Big Ben.


Parliament in the foreground, Big Ben in the background.

After we didn't get in, we walked up to Trafalgar Square:

Then we went and got pancakes. The end.

Friday, February 27

All the Wine Is All for Me

There comes a time in every young man's life when he realizes that one day it will become socially unacceptable for him to have purple hair. For me, that realization came yesterday, and I became resolved not to squander my youth.

Maeghan and I and some others were at a pub, and Maeghan was talking about how she is going to get a pretty dramatically different haircut, much shorter than she's used to. She was also saying she was considering dying it red, which started a discussion about what color hair I would look good with. Maeghan suggested purple, particularly as it would complement my glasses, and pretty soon I decided that was actually a really good idea. Thus, we went to a pharmacy on the way home, and within a couple hours, I looked like this:

Firstly, forgive my ridiculous facial expressions in these pictures. Secondly, I took these last night trying to get in different lighting, so you can see the degree to which it looks different depending on the light. I hope you like it - I definitely do.

Wednesday, February 18

My Courses

I've gotten asked about my classes a few times, so I thought I'd give a rundown. Here they are:

International Legal Institutions (Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00am - 10:30am)
Professor Alison Duxbury, University of Melbourne

A course on the law of international organizations. We focus on the United Nations, going through its different organs (General Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat, etc.) and what their legal powers and responsibilities are, proposals for reform, and so on. We also will be spending a fair amount of time on various international judicial institutions like the International Court of Justice (established by the UN Charter), the International Criminal Court, and various war crimes tribunals. Then we go into regional institutions like ASEAN and the African Union. Toward the end of course we'll talk about specialized institutions like the WTO, as well as non-governmental organizations.

I like this course a lot, aside from it being so early in the morning. My foreign policy perspective is very oriented toward strengthening the effectiveness of institutions like the UN and the ICC, so this is important stuff to learn about. And the professor is great.

International Humanitarian Law (Mondays, 3:10pm - 5:00pm)
Professor Alison Duxbury, University of Melbourne; Professor Klaus Hoffman-Holland, Free University Berlin

Humanitarian law, basically, is the law of war. But it's limited to what's called jus in bello, which is the "law in war" as opposed to jus ad bellum, which is the "law to war" (some are pushing to change the latter term to jus contra bellum, or the "law against war" to emphasize the illegality of the use of force). In other words, it doesn't deal with whether the war being waged is just, or which side is right. Instead, it deals with the rules of war once a war has already begun. So this deals mainly with the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, which regulate things like the treatment of detained combatants and the protection of civilians and cultural property. We'll also be talking about the laws of occupation, the means and methods of warfare (stuff like arms control), and methods of enforcing humanitarian law.

We have to write a paper for this course, which we just chose topics for. My topic is the Palestinian Authority's recent decision to recognize the authority of the ICC in an effort to get the prosecutor to press charges against Israel for alleged war crimes. Basically it will be about whether the ICC can have jurisdiction over Gaza even though Israel is not a party to the ICC and Palestine isn't a state, and if it does have jurisdiction, whether a case can be made out against Israel for war crimes.

This is probably my favorite class.

Comparative Approaches to Human Rights & National Security (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30pm - 2:00pm)
Professor David Cole, Georgetown University; Professor Colm O'Cinneide, Kings College London

This course compares the national security approaches of the United States and the United Kingdom. Neither has a particularly stellar approach. The course goes through four basic areas of national security policy: detention, interrogation, terror financing, and surveillance. Then at the end it talks about the role of courts in times of emergency and/or terrorist threat. So obviously there are a lot of hot-button issues covered here, including Guantanamo, torture, and wiretapping. The professors clearly enjoy engaging with these kinds of controversies, and so do I, so it's a pretty fun course.

Transnational Legal Theory (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am - 11:55am)
Professor Alon Harel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This is a required course for all students at CTLS, which is unfortunate, because it's a really crappy course. It doesn't have to be - it deals with a lot of really interesting issues: theories of globalization, limits on sovereignty, humanitarian intervention, universal jurisdiction, etc. (Okay, those things are "really interesting" if you're an international lawyer, I promise.) But the readings are so incredibly abstract and dense that they suck all the fun out of the issues. They are also the sort of reading that are difficult for even a native English speaker, which means they're next to impossible for the non-native speakers in the program. And the professor, who is a really nice and interesting guy, does not have a background in international law. He teaches domestic legal theory, which is fine, but that tends not to translate directly to international legal theory, which deals with a whole different set of issues.

Faculty Colloquium (every other Friday, 11:00am - 1:00pm)

The colloquium is a lecture every other week by a different professor, sometimes somebody brought in from outside the program and sometimes one of the professors in the program. The basic idea is that the people giving the lecture have written an article for publication and before it gets published they show it around to a bunch of different people to get feedback. So on the weeks we have colloquium, we read the paper, write a short reaction memo, and then on Friday the author gives a talk and responds to the issues we raised in our memos. A lot depends on the subject matter of the article as to whether this is interesting or not, but the past couple ones we've had were pretty cool - one about the challenges to the equal application of humanitarian law to all sides in a war, and one about incorporating persons with disabilities into human rights frameworks.

And there you have it. With the exception of the transnational legal theory course, the classes are all pretty interesting, though there's a distinctly undergrad-y rather than law school-y feel to the semester which makes the academic side of things a lot less rigorous, which can be both bad and good - bad for feeling like you're getting the most out of the courses, good for traveling and having fun with people.

Sunday, February 15


One of the most fun things about traveling is not the traveling at all but the planning. I didn't go anywhere this weekend, but I did book several flights and discuss plans for various trips. It's quite possible that the non-booked plans will fall through or be altered, but here's what I'm looking at for the next couple months:

Barcelona, Spain, March 5 - March 11 (mostly booked)
This is the first half of my spring break. Barcelona seems to be everybody's favorite city, so I want to devote a lot of time to it. This is the one time I'll be traveling by myself, which I think will be fun. Somebody also recommended taking a day trip during this time to some nearby town, but I can't remember the name of it or why it was recommended. We'll see.

Munich, Germany, March 11 - March 13 (mostly booked)
It's a bit of a hassle finding a cheap and direct way from Barcelona to Munich, but the plan is to meet up with Maeghan and Diane early on March 11 and stay for 3 days. Maeghan is going to be in Berlin the first half of her spring break, but I've seen Berlin already, so we're meeting up here.

Dublin, Ireland, March 14 - March 18 (booked)
We're planning on taking a train from Munich to Frankfurt late on the 13th, and then flying from Frankfurt to Dublin early on the 14th. Ireland was never high on my list of places to go while I was here, but it is going to be St. Patrick's Day, and a whole bunch of CTLS students are going, so I figure what the hey.

Paris, France, March 26 - March 29 (not booked)
This one is tentative, but it would be a good weekend for Maeghan and I, who appear to be among the few who have not yet seen Paris. Whether it's this weekend or not, we'll squeeze it in at some point for sure - you can't not see Paris, right?

Prague, Czech Republic & Krakow, Poland, April 2 - April 6 (not booked)
This is another tentative one, but Lisa and I both really want to see these two. The idea would be to fly into Prague late Thursday, have a full day Friday to see it, then take a night train from Prague to Krakow, which we would then see on Saturday, then take a day trip out on Sunday to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which we've been told are really worth visiting. That's a lot to squeeze in, so I dunno if it's gonna actually happen, but I hope so.

Istanbul, Turkey, April 8 - April 14 (booked)
This is the one I'm most excited about. Maeghan, Diane, Danielle, David and I are all taking this strip during the Easter Break, and we'll be getting to spend 5 full days there. We're also trying to do some research on whether there's anywhere close enough to take a day trip or something.

Scotland, April 16 - April 19 (not booked)
I've been to Edinburgh before, but I loved it and a lot of other people want to go, so maybe I'll be heading back. Danielle and I have also talked about how we want to go up to the Highlands, which are supposed to be really beautiful. These plans are very tentative, but for sure several people want to see Scotland and April seems to be the best time available to us.

And that's it. It might be the case that my exams are over soon enough that I can take another long trip in May before heading back to the States, in which case I'm contemplating either Greece or Morocco or Jordan+Israel+Egypt. Notably absent from this list is anywhere in Italy, which sucks, but I just don't think I'll be able to squeeze it in. Note also that there's a ton I haven't seen yet in London itself, so I'll have to get around to that as well.

Anyway, this is the itinerary at this point. If anybody has any recommendations for things to see in any of the above, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 11

A Few More Pictures from Salisbury/Cornwall

Maeghan just put her pictures from Cornwall up on Facebook and she had a few pretty good ones, so I'm throwing them up here:

A better view of the outside of Salisbury Cathedral than I put up in the previous posts.

This is the longest-running clock in the world. It doesn't have a clockface; it's just set to chime every hour.

Another picture of the fountain reflection that I talked about in the previous posts.

Land's End.

My feet at Land's End.