Global Issues

Legal highs: arguments for and against legalising cannabis in Australia

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Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use, regulated by a federal agency. Nicole Lee Jarryd Bartle The Conversation This proposal is for legalisation of recreational use for relaxation and pleasure, not to treat a medical condition (which is already legal in Australia for some conditions). According to the proposal, the government agency would licence, monitor and regulate production and sale, and regularly review the regulations. The agency would be the sole wholesaler, buying from ... Read More »

Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta blasts East Timor’s ‘total failure’ against extreme poverty

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‘If I had been a prime minister for 10 years, I would have focused all those 10 years on quality education, on rural development and that means water and sanitation for the… Associated Press South China Morning Post Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta has waded back into the young country’s politics ahead of parliamentary elections next month, calling the government a total failure in the past decade in crucial areas such as reducing child ... Read More »

Germany’s (not so) grand coalition may cause ripple effects on European refugee policy

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After a tumultuous 2017 election and six months of political uncertainty, Germany finally has a government. The so-called “grand coalition” made up of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), its right-wing sister party, the… Kelly Soderstrom and Philomena Murray The Conversation At the centre of it all is the coalition agreement. The 179-page document sets out the goals for the government, including a new approach to Germany’s refugee policy. The agreement explains “a new direction for Europe, a new dynamic for Germany, ... Read More »

Attack in Syria from RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus

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To : Foreign & Commonwealth Office United Kingdom 17/04/2018 Subject: Attack in Syria from RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus Sirs, British military forces joined their American and French allies in a ‘precision strike’ in Douma, Syria, against Syrian state installations, attacking from Akrotiri base in Cyprus, on the allegation that the Syrian Government had used chemical weapons against its own people and in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, despite the fact that there has not been any official independent ... Read More »

UK and US accuse Russia of cyber attack that compromised global networks

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Washington and London have detailed how Russian-backed hackers have been compromising network devices around the world since 2015. Alexander Pearson (with Reuters and AFP) – DW The announcement has come amid heightened tensions between the two countries and Russia. The US and Britain warned on Monday of a Russian government-sponsored cyber attack against internet network infrastructure around the world. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint statement on the attack, which ... Read More »

Iran says EU has ‘differing values’ but dialogue should continue

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Iran said April 16 that EU sanctions over its human rights record were due to “differing values” but that they should not derail dialogue with Europe. TEHRAN – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet “We have certain differences of opinion with European countries and the European Union,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said at a press conference. “That is due in part to differing values between our region and the Islamic republic of Iran and the European Union, notably as concerns human rights,” ... Read More »

Julian Burnside: “I worry where our democracy is going”

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Human Rights Arts and Film Festival kicks off at five cinemas across Melbourne on May 3. On May 12, the festival is screening the world premiere of Judy Rymer’s Border Politics, wherein human rights lawyer Julian Burnside AO QC travels the globe to compare how different nations are responding to the refugee crisis. Nick D TimeOut Burnside, 68, is a Melbourne-based commercial litigation barrister who became involved in human rights causes after 2001 when he was asked to act pro bono in ... Read More »

What the law says about a stranger taking a photo of your child without permission

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Imagine this — you’re at home and in the backyard with your children. You notice a nearby neighbour begin to snap photographs of your kids. ABC Radio Brisbane Patrick Williams Naturally you’re concerned, so you call police to see what can be done only to be told that it’s legal provided no-one photographed is naked. That’s what happened to one Brisbane woman this past week. Her brother told ABC News: “My sister’s kids were working in the backyard yesterday doing ... Read More »

Trial by judge alone may not be the answer to giving high-profile defendants a fair hearing

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In April 2013, Adrian Bayley pleaded guilty to Jill Meagher’s murder. As the case was the subject of heavy media coverage, there would have been few Australians who were not well aware of it. John Eldridge The Conversation It’s worth pondering, then, what might have happened had – as was possible – Bayley pleaded not guilty. Would it have been possible to empanel a jury that could bring a fair mind to the assessment of Bayley’s guilt? If not, what ... Read More »

Syria, chemical weapons and the limits of international law

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Consider this shocking fact: Despite horrific images of yet another chemical weapons attack in Syria, the U.S.-led humanitarian intervention to protect civilians on April 13 was fundamentally illegal. Andrew Bell The Conversation Under current international law, President Trump lacks the authorization to launch a single missile to stop future attacks, even for the clear and just purpose of saving civilian lives. No matter how wise you consider this intervention, legal scholars generally agree that the United Nations Charter doesn’t allow ... Read More »

How the aid community responds in Syria will dictate its role in future crises

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The latest military strikes by the US, France and Britain in Syria highlight the Trump administration’s uncertainty on its role in the conflict. Denis Dragovic The Conversation With a near triumphant Syrian President Bashar al-Assad firmly under the control of Moscow and Tehran, the strikes against military bases suspected of facilitating the chemical weapons attacks will be nothing more than a footnote in the wider battle for influence in the… Trump must look towards the future and focus on influencing ... Read More »

On the streets with the desperate refugees who dream of being detained

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Out of money and out of options, the families camped outside Indonesia’s Kalideres detention centre are feeling the pressure Kate Lamb and Ben Doherty The Guardian It has been 58 days. That’s how long Farid Attaie has been sleeping on the footpath outside an immigration detention centre in Kalideres, West Jakarta, with his parents, five siblings, and another Hazara family of… Less than 20 metres from where they sleep the gates of the full-to-the-brim detention facility are topped with spirals ... Read More »

The children of Windrush: ‘I’m here legally, but they’re asking me to prove I’m British’

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Eight people tell of the harrowing experience of having to prove their status despite having been in the UK legally for half a century How the Guardian broke this story Amelia Gentleman A growing number of people who were born in the Caribbean and came to the UK as children during the 1950s and 60s have been experiencing severe problems with their immigration status because they have never formally naturalised or applied for a… They are the children of the Windrush ... Read More »

‘This is my country’: how a Melbourne suburb defied the far-right to welcome refugees

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The settlement of refugees in Eltham sparked far-right protests. But locals presented a different vision of Australia Denham Sadler The Guardian Οn a dreary Sunday afternoon in late March, the sort that provides a harsh lesson on what Melbourne weather is capable of, a Syrian refugee talks through an interpreter about her escape from the conflict that has torn her… Amena*, who along with about 100 other refugees from Syria and Iraq settled in the suburb of Eltham on the outskirts of north-east ... Read More »

Pressure for Syria vote grows as Nicola Sturgeon questions peace effort

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Pressure is building on the government to allow a parliamentary vote on Saturday’s military strikes on Syria, with Labour and the SNP demanding a full debate when the House of Commons returns on Monday. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for debate on a ‘War Measures Act’ that would limit the government’s power to take military action without the approval of MPs. And the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said western allies had failed to exhaust all ... Read More »

Diplomacy, and not bombing, is the way to end Syria’s agony

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More legally questionable and reckless military interventions are not what British people want from their government Jeremy Corbyn The Guardian These are serious times. Following the missile attacks on Syria, now is the moment for a powerful push for peace. Boris Johnson’s blithe acceptance on Sunday that the conflict will now continue on its current course and that peace negotiations would be an “extra” is an unconscionable abdication of… Already this devastating conflict has cost more than 500,000 lives and led to 5 million refugees ... Read More »