Women at the negotiating table – the missing piece in peacebuilding – Manal Omar at TEDxSanDiego 2017

The eloquent Manal Omar discusses the importance of women in participating in peace talks. She argues that a woman’s sexuality is undervalued in that it is a life energy force that we need in order to resolve conflict. She starts off saying that “peace has become a loaded term” – in essence, peace motives are questioned in the same manner as war motives. And, in this age, the rise of extremism, less than 45% of populations trust their governments. She argues, where are the women at peace talks?

In 2012, the book, Sex and World Peace reveals that more women die from violence than war, and that 4 million women disappear every year. But women are often the caretakers of society, and have their fingers on the pulse, so their input is relevant in repairing, planning and providing for peace. When women are at the negotiating table, peace is sustainable over much longer periods of time.

Manal Omar Website

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Humanizing the refugee crisis – Brian Sokol at TEDxSanDiego 2017

In this modern and brilliant discussion of the refugee crisis, Brian Sokol describes the devastating reality of the refugees who have fled from South Sudan to the border of Uganda in search of a better life for themselves and their children. He experiences them with great decency, humanity, and respect, as he came to know them individually on his journey as a photojournalist.

Sokol cautions the audience that statistics alone do not describe this group of people, but instead, lead to pity and shame. He asks, “how often do we use stats to describe people we love?” If we are to understand the reality of the refugee crisis then we need to hear their stories, and see what’s in their hearts. He argues that statistics dehumanize the 2.1 million people who fled to Uganda, and they are good human beings who are desperate for a better and safer life.

Brian Sokol Website

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Magical, Mystical, Mysterious Clemencies – Justin Brooks at TEDxSanDiego 2016

We see it each year at Thanksgiving time. A small crowd on The White House lawn, family members of the President gathered around while the star of the show, a turkey, is granted a pardon from becoming the day’s meal from the President himself.

With presidential clemency powers, it is within the president’s rights to save a bird (or two) each year, but more importantly, this power grants the President the right to pardon wrongfully imprisoned people.

This power has been exercised numerous times throughout history for not only full release from federal prison, but also to reduce sentences.

Along with the President, governors are provided the same power at the state level. This is significant because, as Justin Brooks, director and co-founder of the California Innocence Project, said, the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world – most of which are incarcerated in state prisons. Additionally, California is the state with the most people in prison.

“To get a case opened in California is an incredible task,” Brooks said during his talk at TEDxSanDiego. “To un-ring that bell to get a court to say ‘we’re going to take a second look at this case’ … it’s a really difficult process.

To catch the attention of California Governor Jerry Brown, and in turn his clemency powers, Brooks and his team identified 12 compelling cases from all cross sections of the state’s communities to take to Brown as a petition for clemency.

But just sending a petition wasn’t enough to get his petition. So Brooks, and two lawyers from his office, set out to walk the petitions all 712 miles from San Diego to the state capitol in Sacramento and hand deliver them to the governor’s office.

As the title of his TEDxSanDiego presentation alludes to, clemencies can be magical, mystical and mysterious, especially when you’re wondering what became of the 12 case petitions that were walked straight to the governor’s office.

Justin Brooks Profile

Justin Brooks on Twitter

California Innocence Project

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