Daily Archives: March 19, 2018

The Department of Architecture at XJTLU now fully accredited by RIBA

SUZHOU, China, March 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Royal Institute of British Architects has confirmed accreditation of the Masters of Architectural Design programme of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, validating its Department of Architecture as a full architectural school offering comprehensive training in the discipline.

“We can now take a high school graduate and train him or her completely as an architect,” said masters programme director Christian Gänshirt. “We are very proud of our amazing faculty and students for helping us to reach this point with the first graduating cohort.”

Founded in 2011, the Department of Architecture at XJTLU received international RIBA Part 1 validation for its BEng Architecture programme in 2015, a first for a mainland Chinese university. Following a visit by a RIBA board in November 2017 and the final decision of the RIBA Education Committee in February 2018, the Masters of Architectural Design programme has now been unconditionally validated for international RIBA Part 2.

Masters of Architectural Design graduate (above), Xiaohan Chen, praised the strong teaching team at the Department of Architecture

Masters graduate, Xiaohan Chen, now pursuing a PhD with the Department, gave a statement to the RIBA board in which she praised the Department’s strong teaching team, friendly and helpful staff and technicians, international student body, and working environment that is ‘like a second home’.

“The big difference about studying here is how approachable the staff are,” said Xiaohan. “The professors are friendly and really help us a lot,” said Xioahan.

The RIBA visiting board commended the Department’s ‘extensive facilities’, the interiors which were designed by the former Head of Department Professor Pierre-Alain Croset, and the ‘engaged staff and student body’.

“One key aim is to build on previous exchanges and workshops to forge more and deeper connections with other international schools of architecture,” said Christian Gänshirt. “We’re also planning to step up student exchanges with our partner institution, the University of Liverpool, UK,” he said.

Head of Department Professor Gisela Löhlein said: “I want us to be the best architecture department in China. With our diverse and highly-qualified academic staff and excellent facilities we are well-placed to become exactly that.”

Founded in 2006, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University is the largest international collaborative university in China, a partnership between Xi’an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool.  XJTLU’s vision is to become a research-led international university in China and a Chinese university recognised internationally for its unique features.

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/655115/Architecture_RIBA_Xiaohan_Chen.jpg

Proposed International Court Exit Casts Suspicion on Philippine Anti-Drug Campaign

A decision by the Philippines this month to withdraw from the International Criminal Court has sparked suspicion that officials in Manila want to squelch a probe into the president’s deadly anti-drug campaign.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte moved last week to withdraw from the statute that allowed the court to be founded, his office and the court said in separate statements. The court that was set up in 2002 is known for prosecuting acts such as genocide and war crimes.

It had started a preliminary examination into complaints about the Duterte government’s war on drugs, his spokesman said Thursday in a statement on the presidential office website.

Duterte’s two-year-old anti-drug campaign has killed thousands at the hands of police, human rights advocates say. Reports of those killings drew criticism from Western countries in 2016 and 2017, but Duterte enjoys popular support at home over perceptions that his effort is reducing everyday crime in the Southeast Asian country.

Quitting the court after seven years raises suspicion that Duterte wants to keep his drug campaign out of the international spotlight, scholars in the Philippines believe.

It hasn’t taken off yet and all of a sudden there’s this move to withdraw, said Jay Batongbacal, a University of the Philippines law and international maritime affairs professor. It seems like an emotionally driven decision.

Authority to prosecute

The court, based in The Hague, has indicted 39 world leaders to date, all from Africa. It has not investigated crimes in the Philippines.

Philippine courts, not the international one, should hear any complaints related to the anti-drug campaign, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday in explaining the move for withdrawal. Local courts are willing to take related cases, Roque said, so for the international body to do the same violates a principle of complementarity.

The Philippine withdrawal would hand the court a big loss by discouraging other Asian countries from joining, Roque added.

But skeptics worry that Duterte is pulling out to vent about the investigation. The court announced February 8 a preliminary examination into any extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations.

The anti-drug campaign has killed 12,000 suspects, the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch said in January. Duterte has responded to increased criticism of his anti-drug campaign by impugning, harassing, and threatening critics of the government and human rights defenders, the advocacy group says.

Duterte reassigned the Philippine National Police to the campaign in December after a break in mid-2017. The deaths of three young drug suspects had stoked public outrage then, and Duterte briefly put the country’s Drug Enforcement Agency in charge.

Before taking office in 2016, Duterte pledged to eradicate illegal drugs.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said in February it would offer data to the international court, news media in the country say, but national police have distanced themselves. The international court’s probe could develop until withdrawal is complete.

The country publicly reaffirmed support in December for the court’s principles, court assembly President O-Gon Kwon said in a statement Friday.

A state party withdrawing from the Rome Statute would negatively impact our collective efforts towards fighting impunity, Kwon said, referring to the statute that created the court.

Muted outrage; quiet support

Legal scholars and human rights groups in the Philippines oppose withdrawal from the criminal court, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabaya alliance of social causes in Manila.

Some believe withdrawal from the 123-member body would give Duterte impunity, he said

But much of the general public is less concerned, analysts say. The flap may just bring Duterte’s supporters closer to him, Batongbacal said. He received a 79 percent satisfaction rating in the final quarter of 2017, according to a survey by Metro Manila-based research institution Social Weather Stations.

On the street there’s really not much of a conversation, said Rhona Canoy, president of an international school in the southern Philippine city Cagayan de Oro. There’s still a lot of support for the president, so there hasn’t been too much of an on-the-ground reaction to that.

The international court case shows lack of respect for Philippine democratic institutions, said Antonio Contreras, political scientist at De La Salle University in the Philippines.

To take submission of a case like that when in fact we are a functioning democracy is something that is very fundamentally wrong, Contreras said. There is a recognition that we are not in the same league as Libya or Sudan or Iraq.

Duterte and any accomplices can be tried by Philippine courts after he steps down in 2022 due to term limits, he added.

Source: Voice of America


JOHANNESBURG– South Africa has been ranked 105th on the World Happiness Report of 2018, which is prepared by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

The report, which draws its results from surveys done between 2015 and 2017 in 156 countries, ranked the countries according to their scores for things such as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.

The 2018 report shows that Finland is the happiest country, followed closely by fellow Nordic nations Denmark and Norway.

Speaking at the Vatican where the report was released last week, the head of the SDSN, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of New York’s Columbia University, said the Nordic countries were holding the lead in the happiness stakes whereas the United States was dropping down the list.

Sachs cited a social crisis of more inequality, less trust, less confidence in government as being the main reasons for the decline in the US, which came in at 18th, down from 14th place last year.

Britain was 19th and the United Arab Emirates 20th.

Burundi is at the bottom of the happiness index.



JOHANNESBURG– African governments have been urged to develop an inclusive approach to eliminate common transmissible and non-transmissible diseases in the continent.

Experts made the call at the ongoing Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Co-operation in Dakhla, Morocco, according to a report by the Cape Town-based African News Agency (ANA). They called for the recruitment and training of local citizens in preventive measures to curb THE prevalence of common disease.

Phlilppe Sou of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that educating local citizens would enable governments to ensure effective implementation of healthcare policies. Sou said that the funding of the health sector was important but not all the sector needed.

Former French Social Affairs and Health Minister Morisol Tourraine called for the education of women in healthcare. Tourraine explained that women were a formidable institution for the improvement of health globally and urged African countries to implement health programmes that facilitate women’s participation.

Morocco’s Minister of Health, Anas Doukkali also called for countries to enhance co-operation and share experiences in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Doukkali also called for the development of mobile healthcare services to reach people in rural communities and for enhanced implementation of efficient prevention and control programmes to address infant mortality and eliminate infectious diseases.

The Crans Montana forum, held annually since 1986, is aimed at strengthening solidarity in the economic, social and environmental development of Africa as well as enhancing relationships with countries globally, notably in the framework of the South-South Co-operation.

More than a thousand participants from 131 countries and representatives of 27 regional and international organizations are taking part in the forum. Discussions at the forum include food security, sustainable agriculture, renewable energies, youth and women’s empowerment, urban global management, and the ocean economy.



JOHANNESBURG– The legal representative of former South African president Jacob Zuma is considering taking on review the decision by the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA) to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma.

NPA Director Shaun Abrahams announced on Friday that Zuma would be prosecuted on charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, said over the weekend that after careful consideration on the matter, he feels the reason for the decision is not clear, as the rationale behind it is not clearly outlined in the communication furnished to him as Zuma’s legal representative.

He said that while it appeared the likely cause of action would be to take Abrahams’ decision on review, this would only be done after careful consideration and consultation with his client.

The charges against Zuma were dropped by the former acting director of the NPA, Mokotedi Mpshe, just before the 2009 South African general election in a decision which the Pretoria High Court found to be irrational in 2016.