International Right To Know Day
Sept. 28 is International Right to Know Day, a day to celebrate the right of citizens to access information held by public bodies (the right to information or RTI). Originally proclaimed on Sept. 28, 2002, International Right to Know Day is now formally recognized in countries around the world with activities ranging from conferences, prize-giving ceremonies, online discussions (the Centre for Law and Democracy will host a discussion on RTI this year vireddit.com/r/iama), and the like.
More generally, International Right to Know Day provides an opportunity to reflect on progress regarding the right to information, protected as a human right under international law, as well as the Constitution of Indonesia.
This year we have a major milestone to celebrate, the passage of the 100th right to information law globally, with the formal signing, on Sept. 18, of Paraguay’s Access to Information Act. With this law, over one half of the world’s countries, including of course Indonesia, covering some three-quarters of the world’s population, have put in place legal regimes guaranteeing the right to information.
How does Indonesia weigh up globally on this important human rights issue? The good news is that the legal framework in Indonesia, and in particular the Public Information Disclosure Act, No. 14 of 2008, is relatively strong. According to the RTI Rating (RTI-Rating.org) (a globally accepted methodology for assessing the strength of legal frameworks for RTI developed by the Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe), Indonesia’s legal framework scores 101 points out of a possible total of 150, putting it in 28th position globally.
This is a very respectable position, which Indonesians can be proud of. Readers may be interested to know that Serbia tops the rating, with a score of 135 points, while nearby Austria languishes in last place, with just 37 points.
There is no single, accepted global measure of how well RTI laws are being implemented (the RTI Rating only measures legal provisions). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that Indonesia is not doing quite as well on this front.
The demand for information (i.e. by civil society and members of the public) remains somewhat weak, especially for a country the size of Indonesia, although this is starting to build.
Some organizations are increasingly making demands for information, but the overall buzz around the issue is far less animated than in countries like Bulgaria, India and Mexico, where there are almost daily newspaper reports on citizens using RTI to achieve social goals.
There is also room for improvement on the supply side (i.e. the measures taken by public bodies to be transparent). Many public bodies have not even appointed the Information Management and Documentation Officers (PPIDs) that Article 13 of Law No. 14 of 2008 requires them to. And even fewer have gone so far as to adopt internal rules — Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) — on this issue.
Indonesia is not alone in this, inasmuch as it is much easier to pass a law than to implement one and many countries struggle with the latter. Indeed, to some extent implementation is an ongoing challenge, even many years after the law has been passed. The Canadian law was passed over 30 years ago, but there are continuous efforts to improve implementation.
However, the Indonesian law came into effect in May 2010, nearly four and a half years ago, and so the various Indonesian stakeholders do need to make an effort to improve implementation. The imminent prospect of a new government, which is on record as being committed to becoming more open, provides an ideal opportunity for this.
It is up to local stakeholders to decide what they want to do, but some suggestions based on what has been successful in other countries may be helpful. Media outlets often file RTI requests to obtain information about medium- or longer-term stories they are working one.
Sometimes, not getting the information makes for just as good a story as getting it. Media outlets in some countries have, for example, made similar requests to different public bodies, and then produced great reports based on the different types of responses they received.
Civil society groups could also use the law more extensively. Practically every organization, regardless of the issues they work on, needs information held by government; this is certainly not an issue which is limited to groups working directly on RTI.
And, if the request is refused, one can always lodge an appeal with the Central or relevant Provincial Information Commission, which has the power to order public bodies to disclose information.
Finally, public bodies need to do their part, in the first place by appointing a PPID and adopting a standard operating procedure. These are, actually, formal legal obligations for all public bodies in Indonesia. In the short term, such measures may seem rather burdensome.
But experience in countries around the world has shown that, in the longer-term, being open leads to better relations with citizens and improves the effectiveness of public bodies. Surely this, along with the satisfaction of doing one’s bit to respect a fundamental human right, should be motivation enough.
Many observers, including this author, consider Indonesia to be the strongest democracy in Southeast Asia. With a little bit more effort, the right to information could be held up as a pillar of that democracy. Let’s work together to make that happen.
Happy International Right to Know Day!
Gold Star Mother's Day
Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the United States on the last Sunday of September each year. It is a day for people to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter while serving the United States Armed Forces.
Each year on Gold Star Mother's Day the United States president calls on all Americans to display the nation's flag and hold appropriate meetings to publicly express their love, sorrow, and reverence towards Gold Star Mothers amd their families. Government buildings are also required to display the flag.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is an organization of mothers whose sons or daughters served and died while serving their nation in times of war or conflict. It organizes major events that take place on or around Gold Star Mother’s Day each year. Previous activities included a Gold Star flower wreath laying service, as well as an afternoon tour of President Lincoln’s cottage in Washington DC.
The last Sunday in September is also Parents of Fallen Military Sons and Daughters Day in New Jersey. This day is a tribute to all parents whose children died as a result of their service with the United States Armed Forces. It commemorates the contributions, commitments and sacrifices made by those parents individually and through the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
The name the Gold Star Mothers was derived from the custom of military families who put a service flag near their front window. The flag featured a star for each family member serving in their country – living members were denoted in blue but gold stars honored family members who were killed while in duty. In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson approved the wearing of black arm bands bearing a gilt star by those who had a family member who died in the military service to the United States. This distinguished them from the blue stars, representing a family member presently serving in the armed forces.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. was incorporated in 1929, obtaining a federal charter from the US Congress. It began with 25 mothers living in the Washington DC area and soon expanded to include affiliated groups throughout the nation. On June 23, 1936, a joint congressional resolution designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day, a holiday that has been observed each year by a presidential proclamation.
A gold star symbolizes a family member who died in the line of duty while serving the United States Armed Forces. It may be seen on a service flag or in the form of a pin, which is worn by Gold Star mothers. The pin is not limited to mothers and it is awarded by the US Department of Defense.
National Ask A Stupid Question Day
This annual “holiday” is typically observed on September 28 unless the day falls on a weekend - then it’s observed the last school day in September. Ask a Stupid Question Day is a holiday that is sometimes celebrated in the United States, usually by school students and teachers. Although Ask a Stupid Question Day's default date is September 28, in practice it is usually observed on the last school day of September.
This holiday was created by teachers in the 1980s to encourage students to ask more questions in the classroom. According to HolidayInsights.com, "at the time, there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Kids sometimes hold back, fearing their question is stupid, and asking it will result in ridicule."
If you were ever a kid once, a teacher or adult probably told you there is no such thing as a stupid question. But let’s be honest. Have you ever blurted out a question that was so lame, you couldn't believe the words actually came out of your own mouth? It was almost like you were in the middle of an out-of-body experience and someone else uttered the words! Most of us have probably kept a few questions to ourselves because we were so worried we’d be ridiculed or laughed at by co-workers, fellow students or friends.
But today is a new day! In honor of National Ask a Stupid Question Day, go ahead. Take your best shot and ask away!
National Drink Beer Day
Today is Drink Beer Day! Raise a pint and toast to one of the oldest and most popular beverages in human history.
There are hundreds of different varieties of beer, but they all fall into one of two categories—ale or lager. Historians believe that humans have been producing beer, or some form it, since the Neolithic Era. The oldest continuously operating brewery in the world is in the Bavaria region of Germany. The Weihenstephan brewery began producing beer in the year 1040. Today, the company exports fourteen different brews all over the world.
The invention of bread and/or beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity's ability to develop technology and build civilization. The earliest chemically confirmed barley beer to date was discovered at Godin Tepe in the central Zagros Mountains of Iran, where fragments of a jug, at least 5000 years old was found to be coated with beerstone, a by-product of the brewing process.
Beer may have been known in Neolithic Europe as far back as 5000 years ago, and was mainly brewed on a domestic scale.
Ale produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture toindustrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century. The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process, and greater knowledge of the results.
Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries. More than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons) are sold per year—producing total global revenues of $294.5 billion (£147.7 billion) in 2006.
There’s really only one way to celebrate Drink Beer Day! Gather a group of friends for a beer tasting at home or at your favorite bar. Be sure to check for promotions and giveaways that might be going on in your area. Cheers!
National Good Neighbor Day
National Good Neighbor Day is observed on September 28. Being good neighbors is an important part of the social life. In 2003, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by Montana Senator Max Baucus, making September 28, National Good Neighbor Day.
A Neighbor is a person who lives nearby, normally in a house or apartment that is next door or, in the case of houses, across the street. Some people form friendships with their neighbours, and help them by sharing their tools and helping with gardening tasks. Other people become frustrated with their neighbours, if the neighbour makes a lot of noise or makes messes.
A group of people living close together in a small community is called a neighbourhood. Some neighbourhoods have many community organizations, where people volunteer and do charitable activities. Other neighborhoods in poor communities may have no community organizations, and there may be many problems in the community, such as illegal drugs, prostitution, and homelessness.
National Strawberry Cream Pie Day
Today is National Strawberry Cream Pie Day! Did you know that 70% of a strawberry cream pie’s weight comes from the strawberries themselves? That's a lot considering that the fruit isn't even in season in September!
No one knows who ate the first slice, but pie in some form has been around since the ancient Egyptians made the first pastry-like crusts. The first pies were probably made by the early Romans who probably learned about it from the Greeks. The Roman, Cato the Censor, published the first written pie "receipt" or recipe: a rye-crusted, goat cheese and honey pie.
The Romans then spread the word around Europe including England. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was "evidently a well-known popular word in 1362."
In 1475, the Italian writer Platina offered a recipe for a squash torta or pie hat concludes:
"Put this preparation in a greased pan or in a pastry shell and cook it over a slow fire. ... When it is cooked, set on a plate, sprinkle it with sugar and rosewater."
More often than not, the early pies were main dish meat pies. Fruit pies or tarts ("pasties") were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits Queen Elizabeth I with making the first cherry pie but it's unlikely that Her Highness actually spent much time in the kitchen. In Tudor and Stuart times, English pies were made with pears and quinces as often as with apples."Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes," wrote Robert Greene in "Arcadia" in 1590.
Prior to this time many "pyes" or pies were crustless, being simply hollowed out pumpkins filled with mincemeat (which was mostly meat), baked in ashes and served in wedges.
Pie came to America with the first English settlers but chances are Christopher Columbus knew of his native dish "pizza" which is Italian for "pie." The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans called "coffins." The early crusts were frequently inedible and tough designed more to hold the filling together during baking than to be actually eaten.
"If one were to conduct a survey of Americans to determine the typical American pie, chances are it would be a large, deep-dish, two-crusted affair, which is actually a combination of two European pies: the tartlet and the savoury," writes Lee Edwards Benning.
If the food-loving Pennsylvania Dutch people didn't invent pie, they certainly perfected it. Evan Jones in "American Food The Gastronomic Story" writes:
"Some social chroniclers seem convinced that fruit pies as Americans now know them were invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Potters in the southeastern counties of the state were making pie plates in the early eighteenth century, and cooks had begun to envelop with crisp crusts every fruit that grew in the region. 'It may be,' Frederick Klees asserts, 'that during the Revolution men from the other colonies came to know this dish in Pennsylvania and carried this knowledge back home to establish pie as the great American dessert.' "
"I was happy to find my old friend, mince pie, in the retinue of the feast" wrote Washington Irving in 1820.
Pies became a common part of American life. A Vermont housewife, itemizing her baking for the year 1877, counted 152 cakes, 421 pies and 2,140 doughnuts.
In 1878, Mark Twain made up a menu of American foods he missed in Europe for "A Tramp Abroad" which concludes "Apple pie ... Peach pie. American mince pie. Pumpkin pie. Squash pie. All sorts of American pastry."
Every cook knew how to make them. "One of the things noticeable about early pie recipes is their lack of detail; it was assumed that any cook who knew her way around a kitchen could put together a pie" writes Richard Sax in "Classic Home Desserts."
Although modern Americans don't eat pie for breakfast—although we might LIKE to—pie remains a favorite, whether apple, cherry, mince, pecan, chess, lemon meringue, pumpkin or a myriad of others.
"Cakes, pies and sweet puddings have remained the most popular American desserts. They gained popularity because they pleased the palate but also because they satisfied voracious hunger and provided energy for hardworking people," writes Evan Jones.
When you set out to find the perfect strawberry cream pie there are many variations from which to choose. Some recipes use cream cheese in the filling while others call for whipped cream or custard. Crusts can be sweet or savory, strawberries can be whole or whipped into a mousse, and there are dozens of different toppings.
Find your favorite kind of strawberry cream pie or sample a selection to celebrate National Strawberry Cream Pie Day!
Read a Child a Book You Like Day
Today is “Read a Child a Book You Like Day?” This day celebrates the birthday (1856) of Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of “Rebecca at Sunnybrook Farm” and other wonderful children’s stories.
Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856-1923), American author and educator, wrote Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1903). Though not the perfect child and driven by strong independence, the gregarious Rebecca Rowena Randall eventually softens the heart of her severe Aunt Miranda with her innocence and sensibility. She goes on to win the hearts of all those who meet her and read about her life from poverty to a richness of spirit and hope in a tale generous in humour that is acclaimed for its authentic portrayal of rural Maine, its people and culture. Mark Twain said it was "beautiful and moving and satisfying." The enduring classic was translated to many languages and adapted for the stage and screen. A proponent of early childhood education, Wiggin is also now noted for establishing the first free kindergarten in San Francisco, California.
Kate Douglas Wiggin was born on 28 September 1865 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother was Helen Elizabeth Dryer Smith and her father Robert Noah Smith. In 1877 she started her career of teaching kindergarten in Santa Barbara, California. A firm believer in the merits of starting education at a young age and making it accessible for all children, she was involved with the founding of the San Francisco Silver Street Kindergarten.
World Heart Day
World Heart Day is globally observed on September 29 to inform people about cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest cause of death worldwide. The event also aims to promote preventative measures that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Many people around the world unite with governments and non-government organizations celebrate and promote World Heart Day each year. Activities include fun runs, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The World Heart Federation organizes awareness events in more than 100 countries. They include:
- Health checks.
- Organized walks, runs and fitness sessions.
- Public talks.
- Stage shows.
- Scientific forums.
- Sports tournaments.
These activities are done in partnership with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health.
About World Heart Day
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and this is projected to remain so, according to WHO. About 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Risk factors that may lead to heart disease and stroke include:
- Raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
- Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables.
- Physical inactivity.
World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death. Together with organizations such as WHO, the World Heart Federation spreads the news that at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – which are tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – are controlled. World Heart Day started in 1999 and is held on the last Sunday of September every year.
Various leaflets, posters, brochures and other material used to promote World Heart Day show images of people taking steps towards healthier living through activities such as exercise, as well as eating healthy and nutritious food. The heart symbol is also seen in promotional material.
World Rabies Day
The first World Rabies Day campaign took place in September 2007 as a partnership between the Alliance for Rabies Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA (CDC), with the co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/AMRO). In 2009, after three World Rabies Days, the Alliance for Rabies Control estimated that rabies prevention and awareness events had taken place in over 120 countries, that over 100 million people worldwide had been educated about rabies and that nearly 3 million dogs had been vaccinated during events linked to the campaign.
As rabies is a disease that crosses borders, especially in wild animal populations, the campaign encourages the transnational collaboration of rabies control and prevention organizations. It also promotes a One Health approach to rabies prevention, part of a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans and animal health. The WRD logo (pictured above) represents the complexity of rabies, which can infect human beings, wildlife and domestic animals.
The advocacy work of the World Rabies Day campaign includes promoting government involvement in rabies prevention and control programs, increasing the vaccination coverage of pets and community dogs, and improving the educational awareness of how to prevent rabies in all levels of society. It also promotes the utilization of an integrated model of disease management, the Blueprint for Rabies Prevention. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) considers that World Rabies Day plays an important role in advocating the prevention and control of rabies among policy makers, especially in countries where rabies is still neglected.