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The article argues that the impact of law enforcement efforts against corruption deserves more scholarly attention. Drawing on a mixed-methods study from Malawi in southern Africa, where a large-scale law enforcement operation has been investigating and prosecuting those involved in a 2013 corruption scandal known as ‘Cashgate’, the article explores the potential for corruption deterrence from the perspective of government officials in the Malawi civil service. Malawi provides a challenging environment for deterrence due to limited state capacity, weak law enforcement agencies and widespread corruption. Nonetheless, the research findings show that Malawian government officials perceive prosecutions and convictions to deter corruption, both with regards to the law enforcement response to Cashgate specifically and law enforcement efforts in general. The findings from Malawi suggest that law enforcement and criminal justice have the potential to make an important contribution to anti-corruption strategies in Africa and the Global South at large.
Psychological treatments provide many benefits for patients with psychiatric disorders, but research also suggests that negative effects might occur from the interventions involved. The Negative Effects Questionnaire (NEQ) has previously been developed as a way of determining the occurrence and characteristics of such incidents, consisting of 32 items and six factors. However, the NEQ has yet to be examined using modern test theory, which could help to improve the understanding of how well the instrument works psychometrically.
The current study investigated the reliability and validity of the NEQ from both a person and item perspective, establishing goodness-of-fit, item bias, and scale precision.
The NEQ was distributed to 564 patients in five clinical trials at post-treatment. Data were analysed using Rasch analysis, i.e. a modern test theory application.
(1) the NEQ exhibits fairness in testing across sociodemographics, (2) shows comparable validity for a final and condensed scale of 20 instead of 32 items, (3) uses a rating scale that advances monotonically in steps of 0 to 4, and (4) is suitable for monitoring negative effects on an item-level.
The NEQ is proposed as a useful instrument for investigating negative effects in psychological treatments, and its newer shorter format could facilitate its use in clinical and research settings. However, further research is needed to explore the relationship between negative effects and treatment outcome, as well as to test it in more diverse patient populations.
Biochar as a boon for soil fertility in the tropics still has to show that it is able to provide the same benefits to soils in temperate regions. Here an Austrian study with the objective to analyze the extent of benefits that biochar application offers to agricultural soils in Europe beyond its role as a carbon sequestration strategy is presented. Based on hypothesis testing, several potential benefits of biochar were examined in a series of lab analyses, greenhouse and field experiments. Three hypotheses could be confirmed: biochar can protect groundwater by reducing the nitrate migration in seepage water; biochar can mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation by reducing soil N2O emissions; and biochar can improve soil physical properties by increasing water storage capacity. One hypothesis was only partly confirmed: biochar supports the thriving of soil microorganisms only in specific soil and climate settings. Two hypotheses were refuted: biochar does not generally provide nutrients to plants except when produced from specific feedstocks or by combining it with mineral or organic fertilizers; the cost-effectiveness of biochar application is not given under current production costs if the existing benefits of biochar are not transferable to financial value.
The article presents an anthropological analysis of witness testimony about ritual murder, cannibalism, and secret societies in the trial against Charles Taylor in The Hague. In the first part, a comprehensive in-depth analysis of the testimony of one prosecution witness serves as a case study to illustrate the difficulties of assessing the veracity of witness statements on alleged atrocities linked to African religious and spiritual beliefs. The second part contextualizes the testimony heard in the trial against Charles Taylor by drawing on historical sources and the academic literature on West Africa. The analysis reveals striking parallels between the prosecution narrative and colonial representations of Africa as a mysterious and savage place.
Ubiquitin (Ub) was determined by a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in serum (S) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 29 patients with ‘probable Alzheimer's disease’ (AD), 14 patients with vascular dementia (VAD), and 13 healthy individuals. The mean concentration of Ub in CSF (110 ± 20 ng/mL) was about 20% of that in serum (940 ± 120 ng/mL) in healthy controls. There was no significant correlation between S-Ub and CSF-Ub, or between the CSF/S Ub ratio and the CSF/S albumin ratio. These findings suggest that a major portion of CSF-Ub is intrathecally produced. CSF-Ub was increased while S-Ub was decreased in both AD and VAD patients as compared with controls. As a consequence, the CSF/S Ub ratio showed good discrimination between patients and controls: 22/29 (76%) of the AD patients and 9/14 (64%) of the VAD patients had a CSF/S Ub ratio that was higher than the highest control value. No significant differences in any of the parameters were found between AD and VAD. Ub is involved in an ATP-dependent proteolytic pathway and also acts as a heatshock protein. The increase in CSF-Ub in AD and VAD may therefore be interpreted as a cytoprotective response to abnormal or damaged proteins, and CSF-Ub may have a potential as a non-disease-specific marker for cerebral degeneration.
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