Features

Rex Tillerson signals an open-ended US military presence in Syria

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled for an open-ended US military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy. Tillerson also called for “patience” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. David Brunnstrom, Reuters  Business Insider The United States on Wednesday signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a speech at Stanford ... Read More »

Jeff Flake’s 20 most damning lines about Donald Trump’s assault on the press

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(CNN) – Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake came to the Senate floor Wednesday with a simple message for Donald Trump: Stop attacking the media. Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large The speech, which Flake had previewed over the weekend, was the first of what the Arizona Republican has promised will be a series of addresses over 2018 aimed at noting the abnormalities of the Trump presidency. Critics have cast Flake as something of a sore loser — a Republican whose strong ... Read More »

Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide

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At a public meeting in Hobart in the late 1830s, Solicitor-General Alfred Stephen, later Chief Justice of New South Wales, shared with the assembled crowd his solution for dealing with “the Aboriginal problem”. Kristyn Harman The Conversation If the colony could not protect its convict servants from Aboriginal attack “without extermination”, said Stephen, “then I say boldly and broadly exterminate!” Voluminous written and archaeological records and oral histories provide irrefutable proof that colonial wars were fought on Australian soil between ... Read More »

Democracy has a future, if we rethink and remake it

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Consider Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s referendum, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of state-sanctioned murder and Hungary’s drift towards a new authoritarianism. Authors The Conversation “Democracy is dead,” say the disheartened. “It’s time to bury democracy,” pounds one Tunisian pro-Sharia party. “Democracy has fallen, we need a new game in town,” argue Vladimir Putin’s populist and Xi Jinping’s neo-authoritarian allies. These mantras, circulated widely through social media, have ricocheted around the world ... Read More »

Money Can’t Buy China Love – but Influence, Apparently

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China under Xi Jinping is deeply concerned with its global status and standing and aims to regain its deserved place on the global stage Falk Hartig Asia Sentinel This has dramatic consequences not only for China but for the rest of the world One of the most important developments with regards to China has been the bold departure from the foreign policy dictum to keep a low profile. While the country, until recently, was mainly concerned with domestic issues and ... Read More »

Freedom House reduces Turkey’s status to ‘not free’ in annual report

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U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House has reduced Turkey’s status from “partly free” to “not free” in its latest annual report. Hurriyet The “Freedom in the World” 2018 report, published on Jan. 16, ruled that Turkey’s “political rights rating” had declined from 4 to 5 and its “civil liberties rating” had declined from 5 to 6. Specifically referring to the “deeply flawed” April 2017 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system, the report also blasted the mass dismissals of state ... Read More »

Nimetz: Term ‘Macedonia’ to be included in name proposal

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Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting between delegates from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in New York, United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said on Tuesday that his proposal to resolve the decades-old name dispute will include the term “Macedonia.” e kathimerini In an interview with ANT1 TV, Nimetz said the term “Macedonia” will be included in the name as more than 100 countries have already recognized it as such. “If we wait for another 25 years the problem will ... Read More »

The Iran Nuclear Deal at Two: A Status Report

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The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is working, but is at risk from longstanding U.S.-Iran rivalry, Trump administration policies and Tehran’s upsurge of activism in the Middle East. ICG The deal’s other signatories should encourage the U.S. not to withdraw and consider ways to sustain the deal, regardless of U.S. actions and as long as Iran remains committed to it. What’s the issue? The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is as successful as it remains fragile. President Trump has warned he will ... Read More »

Trump Administration’s Fuzzy Math on Terrorist Origins is More than Misleading – It’s Dishonest

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Just as the Senate Judiciary Committee was getting ready to conduct an oversight hearing today with newly appointed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, her department, along with the Justice Department (DOJ) released a misleading report aimed at stoking anti-immigrant sentiment. Faiza Patel Just Security The headline of a press release trumpeting the report stated: “Three Out of Four Individuals Convicted of International Terrorism and Terrorism-Related Offenses were Foreign Born.” The obvious goal of the report, which was issued pursuant ... Read More »

Will Religious Instability Destroy Bangladesh?

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Bangladesh was born in 1971 after India intervened in Pakistan’s civil war, which resulted in the independence of what was known as East Pakistan. Doug Bandow The National Interest The new state’s politics were violent too, punctuated by military rule, which pushed to Islamicize the secular state. Bangladesh today is nominally democratic, but politics is bitterly fractious and violent. Moreover, Islamist tides are rising. Like a number of other majority Islamic states, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, a once relaxed social ... Read More »

Centrelink gave companies accused of exploitation direct access to welfare payments

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Appliance retailers with histories of breaches and Asic enforcement action use Centrepay system to get guaranteed access to payments Christopher Knaus The Guardian Centrelink has given companies accused of exploitation and misconduct direct access to welfare recipients’ money through its automated debit system The companies were granted access to the Centrepay system, which allows Centrelink to deduct money from welfare payments to pay approved businesses early. The system is designed to ensure rent and… Centrelink gave companies… Read More »

Japan to step up patrol of N. Korean illegal fishing

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Japan’s fisheries ministry says it is going to step up a crackdown on illegal fishing by boats from North Korea and other countries. NHK World There have been an increasing number of cases of foreign boats including many from North Korea fishing illegally in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Yamatotai fishing grounds off the Noto Peninsula in the Sea of Japan. Ministry officials say they will set up a taskforce led by the Fisheries Agency chief to strengthen the ... Read More »

Martin Luther King’s Call to ‘Give Us the Ballot’ Is As Relevant Today as It Was in 1957

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And that’s a mark of how endangered voting rights are right now Martin Luther King Jr.’s first speech at the Lincoln Memorial was not his celebrated 1963 address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. By Barbara Arnwine and John Nichols The Nation Six years earlier, when he was still a relative newcomer on the national scene, Dr. King addressed 25,000 civil-rights activists who had gathered at the memorial for the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, ... Read More »

Fifty years on, is life better for everyone?

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About this time every year, Australians are struck by an uncharacteristic bout of self-reflection. As we swan around on beaches, we pause to ask ourselves the big questions. Jessica Irvine The Canberra Times Questions like: why do I always forget to put sunscreen on the tops of my feet? Is John Farnham’s That’s Freedom or AC/DC’s Thunderstruck the most Australian anthem of all time? And, is it really ok to hold a national day of celebration to commemorate the day our forebears ... Read More »

Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

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The Canadian author’s defence of due process for those accused of sexual misconduct sparked online ire Ashifa Kassam in Toronto The Guardian Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood described the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, as a “massive ... Read More »

The Buzz Fades

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Under-resourced in an overworked agricultural system, honeybee colonies are gradually failing in most temperate regions. By Raúl Guillén The Nation Honeybees, or Apis mellifera, which are native to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, have been domesticated around the world, but since the 1980s their mortality has increased rapidly in most temperate regions (Europe, Japan, North and South America). The naturalist Jean-Pierre Rogel writes, of Canada: “The current losses of around 25% are exceptional, and would be disastrous economically if ... Read More »