Features

Rights that protect against socioeconomic disadvantage are long overdue – the UK is already paying the price

In 2018, two anniversaries and a crucial decision loom large in the UK. We saw in the 70th anniversary of the NHS in July, while December 10 marks the 70th birthday of the adoption of the… Authors: The Conversation On December 11, the UK parliament will also vote on the prime minister’s EU withdrawal deal. The coming together of health, human rights and Brexit, raises questions of huge practical and… The recent UK visit of Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur ... Read More »

Dying With Dignity Versus The Metastases Of Our Religious Heritage

Why do we let religion rule our lives, but in particular our deaths? Geoff Russell takes a look at the power of Churches to prevent people from making the most intimate of choices. Geoff Russell New Matilda The fingers that once skipped around the frets and strings of her guitar made hard work of rolling the little plastic wheel. But as it finally moved into place, the process began: drip, drip, drip. Clear sodium pentobarbital moved into the plastic intravenous ... Read More »

Economic hardship and nationalism are gutting climate action

What a difference three years makes. In December 2015, world leaders gathered in a historic display of species consciousness to sign the Paris climate accord to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Nathan Gardels The Washington Post Today, in December 2018, Paris is experiencing a winter of discontent, with a virtual uprising against a tax increase on fuel aimed at fulfilling France’s 2015 obligations. In a dramatic illustration of the battle between the present and the future, the mantra of ... Read More »

End the Innovation Obsession

Some of our best ideas are in the rearview mirror. TORONTO — A year ago I stepped into the Samcheong Park Library in Seoul, South Korea, and saw the future. David Sax The New York Times The simple building in a forested park had a nice selection of books, a cafe at its center and a small patio. Classical music played while patrons read, reclining on extra-deep window benches that had cushions to sit on and tables that slid over ... Read More »

Armenia’s Revolution: A Flickering Light in a Darkening Europe

This is the first insurrection in a post-Soviet state that legitimately boiled up from the streets, free of influence from outside forces. Marc Cooper The Nation Next Sunday, on December 9, Armenians are expected to further consolidate their unique and vastly underreported “Velvet Revolution.” On that day, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s “My Step” alliance is expected to win a large governing majority in the… Though this has been barely reported, if it all, in most of the Western media, ... Read More »

The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming Before. It Wiped Out Almost Everything.

In some ways, the planet’s worst mass extinction — 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian Period — may parallel climate change today. Carl Zimmer The New York Times Some 252 million years ago, Earth almost died. In the oceans, 96 percent of all species became extinct. It’s harder to determine how many terrestrial species vanished, but the loss was comparable. This mass extinction, at the end of the Permian Period, was the worst in the planet’s ... Read More »

‘Dark day’: migrant rescue ship Aquarius ends operations

Médecins Sans Frontières says ‘smear campaign’ by European governments hampered work in Mediterranean Reuters The Guardian Search and rescue ship Aquarius, which has saved tens of thousands of migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean, has ended its operations, said Médecins Sans Frontières, the charity that runs the ship. MSF and its partner SOS Mediterranee said they were forced to terminate its operations due to a “smear campaign” by European governments. The ship has been blocked at the French port of ... Read More »

What Pearl Harbor Still Has to Teach Us

Once again we’re seeing some of the same drivers of the conflicts of the 1930s bubbling to the surface Peter Zwack The National Interest Thinking about Pearl Harbor and avoiding inevitable war, I recently revisited the solemn Arizona battleship memorial at Pearl Harbor while on a brief layover in Hawaii, after… Returning to such hallowed American waters and ground on the heels of my trip to Northeast Asia brought home to me the unsettling fact that events like Pearl Harbor—a… Once that ... Read More »

A dying industry is displacing entire communities

KEYENBERG, Germany — Norbert Winzen remembers the winter they laid the cobblestones in the courtyard of his family’s farmhouse here in this small village. Peter Mellgard The Washington Post He was 12 years old, maybe 13. He and his brothers and sister scrubbed each and every one of the hundreds of heavy stones so their father could lay them in tidy rows. It was the kind of drudgery he despised as a kid but that he looks back on fondly ... Read More »

Syria: is Europe’s influence in the region finished?

The Assad regime has inched closer to winning the Syrian conflict during 2018. Richard Youngs The Conversation With Russian and Iranian support, the regime has reestablished strong and authoritarian rule, at least outside the deescalation zones where its remit is still curtailed. With a new UN envoy to Syria now taking office and the EU confirming it will host another donor conference for the country early in 2019 – designed to mobilise humanitarian aid and other assistance from the international ... Read More »

Perth’s brief abalone season is a time of delicacies and danger

Starting on December 8, recreational abalone fishing will be allowed in Perth. Fishing will be limited to one hour on four Saturday mornings between December and February. John Charles Ryan The Conversation The maximum catch is still 15 per person per day. A complete ban on abalone fishing between Geraldton and the Northern Territory border will remain in place. This brief, intense season is a social and dining highlight of the year for many Australians – particularly Chinese migrants. It’s ... Read More »

Pig-to-human heart transplant more likely after baboon success

Berlin: Pig hearts could soon be tested in humans after scientists passed an important milestone by keeping primates alive for three months after transplanting the organs. WAtoday Telegraph, London Surgeons in Germany grafted pig hearts into five baboons and kept four of the animals alive for at least 90 days, with one still in good health for more than six months. In 2000, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation suggested that human trials would be considered once 60 per ... Read More »

New scholarship honours Aboriginal Elder who led protest against Nazis

A lucrative new scholarship will honour the life and activism of Yorta Yorta leader William Cooper. NITV SBS A university in Victoria has announced a new scholarship that celebrates the activism of Aboriginal and Jewish communities by honouring the life of Yorta Yorta leader William Cooper. On 6 December 1938, Mr Cooper, aged 77, led a march from his home in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs to the steps of the city’s German consulate. It was a protest against Kristallnacht, the ... Read More »

Huawei exec’s arrest opens a new front in the US-China trade war

Hong Kong (CNN Business) – The conflict between the United States and China over trade and technology is expanding. Analysis by Jethro Mullen, CNN Business The arrest of a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei at the request of the US government has angered Beijing, alarmed investors and raised new doubts about the fragile truce that the leaders of the world’s top two economies reached just days ago. “You have to see this as a significant escalation in the trade ... Read More »

Voters are crying out for better government but have mixed views on how to achieve it

Support for democracy and trust in politicians is falling. We hear a lot about evidence-based policy as a way to stem this decline, but less about how that evidence should be generated. Authors: The Conversation One idea that may generate the type of evidence that will help make more informed decisions appears, paradoxically, fairly unpopular with the punters. Perhaps the problem is that not enough has been done to explain to the public what this idea – carefully testing new ... Read More »

The Indian restaurants that serve only half a glass of water

While many parts of India are going through a sustained water crisis, the western city of Pune is trying to deal with the problem in a rather unusual way, writes the BBC‘s Geeta Pandey. The dystopian future we worried about is already here. Many restaurants in the city of Pune have begun serving only half glasses of water to guests. At the pure vegetarian Kalinga restaurant, a couple have just been seated when a waiter approaches their table and asks ... Read More »