Features

Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last

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The crown prince has big plans for his society. RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style. Unlike the other Arab Springs — ... Read More »

Venezuela: Hunger by Default

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Economic mismanagement, corruption and dwindling reserves have forced Venezuela into penury and now into missed payments and partial default on its debts ICG Full-scale, internationally supervised negotiations involving a restored parliament are essential to pave the way to a debt restructuring and a free, fair presidential election. What happened?  On 14 November, credit ratings agencies declared Venezuela in partial default on its foreign debt, after the country failed to meet a $200 million payment to bondholders. Why did it happen?  Economic mismanagement ... Read More »

Boochani arrest is an attack on press freedom

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MEAA, the union for Australian media workers, stands in solidarity with Iranian-Kurdish journalist and regular contributor to Australian publications, Behrouz Boochani, who has reportedly been arrested today on Manus Island. MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said Boochani appeared to have been deliberately targeted by Papua New Guinea police in today’s crackdown because of his high-profile as a journalist reporting from inside the detention centre. “Behrouz has been one of the main sources of factual information about conditions inside the Manus ... Read More »

‘Slow, painful death’ of Yazidi woman’s body and soul while enslaved by the Islamic State

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The Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder Alia Malek When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group’s men and elderly women. The Washington Post The children and the other women they took captive. They brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. This enslavement was justified by edicts ... Read More »

What Paul Keating And Tony Abbott Misunderstand About Voluntary Euthanasia

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They have it wrong in a very big way. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s extraordinary claim that warned against voluntary euthanasia has been debunked as unfounded. Luke Cooper HuffPost In October in the same week a controversial assisted dying bill was debated in Victoria’s lower house of Parliament, Keating argued euthanasia was a “slippery slope” — A claim which just doesn’t stack up. In a Fairfax opinion piece Keating claimed that “the experience of overseas jurisdictions suggests the pressures for ... Read More »

Media outlets reassess their newsroom cultures

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Hotlines, new training procedures mark news organizations’ responses to wave of sexual harassment claims JASON SCHWARTZ Politico The New York Times is calling attention to an anonymous hotline. CBS News is increasing training. NBC News is looking at all of the above. They, like other major media outlets, including POLITICO, are grappling with how to better communicate and reach out to employees as the news business faces a wave of revelations of inappropriate behavior. By Wednesday, two of the three ... Read More »

How spending time in city parks helps asylum seekers to feel at home

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Across Europe, unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers are currently waiting for a decision on their refugee status Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek Clare Rishbeth  Unable to legally work or study, and with very limited funds, many of them feel as though they’re in a state of limbo; like their lives have been put on hold. The Conversation With shrinking public sector funding, there are even fewer resources available to help asylum seekers in this position. But now, new research shows that urban parks ... Read More »

Do we need a new offence to protect victims of family violence from psychological harm?

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The Liberal National Party has promised that if it wins the upcoming Queensland election it will introduce a “standalone” domestic violence offence for non-violent offenders who had shown a pattern of psychologically controlling behaviour. Marilyn McMahon Paul McGorrery  The new offence would also prohibit emotional and financial abuse. The Conversation The Queensland offence would be modelled on the English offence of “controlling or coercive behaviour”. A similar law is also being considered by the Scottish parliament. However, not all key ... Read More »

Mythos review – the Greek myths get the Stephen Fry treatment

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Fry’s retellings have stiff competition, are limited in selection and sometimes appear to be set in North London Edith Hall But they have real charm The Guardian Ever since William Godwin persuaded Charles Lamb to retell The Odyssey as a novel for younger readers in The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), the myths of ancient Greece have been retold in contemporary prose by every generation. Most of these retellings were originally poetry – the epics of Hesiod, Homer and the philhellene Latin poet Ovid, the ... Read More »

‘I cannot leave my neighbour hungry’: support for refugees from priest and major on Manus

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Catholic priest Father Clement Taulam and retired army major Michael Kuweh are defying both the PNG and Australian governments Ben Doherty The Guardian Τhe major and the father seek salvation for the refugees of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Two Manusian men – Catholic priest Father Clement Taulam and retired army major Michael Kuweh – are defying the PNG and Australian governments in calling for assistance for the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus, and for a peaceable solution to the ... Read More »

Air pollution linked to poor sperm quality

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Study finds ‘strong association’ between high levels of fine particulate matter and abnormal sperm shape – but impact on wider fertility remains unclear Matthew Taylor The Guardian High levels of air pollution are associated with poor sperm quality and could be partly responsible for the sharp drop in male fertility, according to a new study. A team of scientists, led by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studied the sperm of nearly 6,500 men and found a “strong ... Read More »

How a Native American tribe came to own one of the world’s most valuable patents

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Allergan, the drugmaker behind Botox, is using an unprecedented tactic to protect its valuable patents – angering lawyers and politicians, and keeping the price of its medicines high. Luke McDonagh The Conversation There has long been a debate about patents and traditional knowledge in developing countries. Pharmaceutical companies in the West, like Allergan, are often accused of “bio-prospecting”. They collect raw samples of traditional medicines and plants, whose healing properties have been known to locals for centuries, and patent modified ... Read More »

Uganda’s Slow Slide into Crisis

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Growing discontent threatens the dysfunctional and corrupt political system built by President Museveni, who is now manoeuvering to extend his three decades in power by raising a 75-year age limit on presidential candidates. ICG As security, governance and economic performance deteriorates, Uganda needs urgent reforms to avoid greater instability. What’s the issue?  Popular discontent is growing over President Museveni’s apparent desire to remain in power while governance, economic performance and security deteriorate. Why does it matter?  Uganda is not in danger of ... Read More »

Humanity in the age of neo-cynicism

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What keeps societies from falling apart is their members’ spontaneous and unforced compliance with unwritten laws, with principles that they do not even have to be reminded of in order to adhere to. Pantelis Boukalas ekathimerini Values such as solidarity, altruism and hospitality may be set out in charters or schoolbooks. But that is of little consequence if it is not in a person to empathize with a stranger’s suffering. And when we say empathize, we mean standing by another ... Read More »

Suu Kyi takes a populist, paranoid turn

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Myanmar de facto leader conflated illegal migration with terrorism in a keynote speech, adding her voice to the Islamophobia that has justified persecution of the Rohingya DAVID SCOTT MATHIESON Asia Times Myanmar’s increasingly internationally maligned de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi signaled a neo-populist turn in her speech on Monday to the Asia Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) meeting held at Naypyitaw. Echoing similar statements from Islamophobic populist leaders in Europe, the United States and Australia, Suu Kyi said, “conflicts around the ... Read More »

‘ISIS Opens Sex-Slave Market in Turkey’s Capital’

Haifa, a 36-year-old woman from Iraq's Yazidi community who was taken as a sex slave by Islamic State group fighters, stands on a street during an interview with AFP journalists in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk on November 17, 2016.
Haifa and her family were among thousands of members of the Yazidi minority shown no mercy by IS when it swept through areas north and west of the Iraqi capital in 2014. As the extremists advanced, they was singled out for especially cruel persecution in a campaign of violence and kidnapping which the United Nations has branded a genocide. Men were gunned down and thousands of women -- including Haifa and her younger sister -- were taken as sex slaves. / AFP / SAFIN HAMED        (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

You may think ISIS’ demise in Iraq and Syria would mean an end to its sex-slave trading, but a new report says Islamic State has merely transferred its slave business into Turkey – including a market in Turkey’s capital Ankara. RAN MEIR  Clarion project This means ISIS is involved in the slavery industry in a European country. During its years of power in parts of Iraq and Syria, ISIS held slave markets both in private and public. With its loss ... Read More »