Global Issues

Jihadism in Southern Thailand: A Phantom Menace

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Thailand’s Malay-Muslim insurgency appears to some observers a potential seedbed for transnational jihadism, but the separatist fronts do not share ideologies or objectives with ISIS or al-Qaeda. ICG The future is uncertain, and a resolution of the conflict, based on political decentralisation, could help deter prospective jihadist expansion in southernmost Thailand. What’s the issue? Media reports and some observers suggest growing potential for Islamic State (ISIS) activity in Thailand’s southernmost provinces. Crisis Group argues that to date there is no evidence of ... Read More »

Coal-fired plant shifted $1bn offshore while pocketing $117m from Australian taxpayers

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Payment to owner of Loy Yang B – one of country’s dirtiest plants – was compensation for short-lived carbon tax Christopher Knaus and Nick Evershed  The Guardian The owner of one of Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants quietly moved $1bn offshore within days of pocketing $117m from taxpayers in compensation for Labor’s now-defunct carbon tax. The revelation, contained in the Paradise Papers, has prompted renewed criticism of the “chronic failure” of Australian climate policy and warnings against future cash handouts ... Read More »

Sexual violence and harassment going up, according to ABS survey

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Sexual violence against women is on the rise, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant and Catherine Hanrahan  ABC The latest Personal Safety Survey shows the proportion of women experiencing sexual violence in the past year increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent since the last survey conducted in 2012. But very few sexual assaults are being reported to police. In 2012, an estimated 17 per cent of women reported their ... Read More »

The island that swapped donkey rides for offshore cash

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It was still dark when the private jet began its descent Inside, its decor was sumptuous, the black leather seats piped with red, but outside rain was falling and the temperature on the ground below was a bracing 2C. Jon Kelly BBC The date was 21 January 2013, and the island that the plane was heading towards hadn’t yet woken up. The candy-red Challenger 605 aircraft carried the registration G-LCDH – the initials of Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, the World ... Read More »

Citizens’ Assembly ideas confront worst of global warming

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Climate change is a pressing moral issue and action is needed for future’s benefit Kevin O’Sullivan  The Irish Times The recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly have the potential to achieve the kind of societal transformation necessary for Ireland to play its part in countering the worst affects of global warming caused by humans spewing out CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. Its brief – to identify how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change – may in time ... Read More »

America’s Crisis of Courage

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Character remains the issue that confronts us in almost every story about national politics today Eliot A. Cohen The Atlantic The American crisis is, at its root, a crisis of character.Yes, many other forces and phenomena are in play: the crash of 2008; technologically driven changes to the economy; gerrymandering and sociological divisions between coast and heartland, urban and rural life; cultural clashes over the norms of marriage, drug use, and religious liberty; wars that have not gone well; the ... Read More »

There Will Soon Be Floods Of Climate Refugees: Will They Get Asylum?

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New Zealand is considering creating a new visa for people fleeing environmental disasters brought on by climate change Adele Peters FastCompany In 2012, a migrant worker from the tiny, low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati tried to become a refugee in New Zealand, arguing that he and his family were afraid to go home because of the impacts of rising sea levels. The courts didn’t accept that the dangers were imminent–or that they were due to reasons of persecution that ... Read More »

Bridging Pakistan’s Gender Divide

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Embarking on field research into Pakistan’s chronic crises sixteen years ago, our South Asia Project Director Samina Ahmed was a woman in a man’s world. Samina Ahmed ICG But her experiences persuade her that understanding conflict requires rigorously incorporating the perspectives of women and girls whose opportunities are frequently inhibited by violence. “Our people won’t let a girl study beyond the third grade (eight or nine years old). But this girl here cries and says: ‘I want to learn’. And ... Read More »

Why we need a better philosophy of trees

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On November 6 1217, Henry III’s Charter of the Forest gave ordinary English people back their traditional rights to use royal hunting grounds for livestock grazing and collecting firewood. Tristan Moyle The Conversation The freedoms that were restored in the use of ancient woodland reshaped the community’s legal and political relationship with nature. But, today, this relationship has broken down. Only 2% of the UK’s ancient woodland survives; over half has been destroyed since the 1930s. Only 13% of the ... Read More »

The Saudi Crown Prince Is Gambling Everything on Three Major Experiments

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A perceived failure on any of these undertakings could produce a crisis of legitimacy Hussein Ibish The Atlantic Call it shock and awe. Call it a purge. Call it a clean sweep.However it’s characterized, the mass arrest of some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent royals, administrators, and tycoons last weekend has completely upended both the structure of the Saudi elite and the country’s way of doing business.It’s not exactly the Night of the Long Knives, as the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel ... Read More »

NATO set to boost Afghan mission

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NATO allies are set to agree tomorrow to increase by some 3,000 personnel the troop levels for the alliance’s Afghanistan training mission, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said. Hurriyet About half the additional troops will come from the United States and the other half from non-U.S. NATO allies and partners. “We have decided to increase the number of troops … to help the Afghans break the stalemate,” Stoltenberg told a news conference on Nov. 7. Stoltenberg stressed the soldiers would ... Read More »

The Nansen passport: the innovative response to the refugee crisis that followed the Russian Revolution

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The triumph of revolution in Russia in 1917 brought an end to the 300-year old Romanov dynasty and the empire over which it ruled Peter Gatrell The Conversation The collapse of the German, Austrian and Ottoman war effort in 1918 precipitated the end of the remaining continental European empires. In each instance, imperial dissolution went hand in hand with the formation of new states. The Russian Civil War, between 1918 and 1921, led to an exodus of people who opposed ... Read More »

Kurdish rift emerges between Erdogan, Putin

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ANKARA, Turkey — Since a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey in November 2015, Turkey has been scrambling to reconcile with Russia, but disagreements over the role of Syrian Kurds are now threatening a fresh deadlock. Zülfikar Doğan Al-Monitor Despite the close dialogue between the two countries’ presidents, the rift over the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), seems to be deepening. Last week, Russia invited 33 groups, including Syrian President Bashar ... Read More »

Meet the mastermind behind Xi Jinping’s power

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BRISBANE, Australia — The conclusion of the recent Communist Party congress in China has turned the world’s spotlight on a hitherto elusive figure, the 62-year-old scholar-turned-official, Wang Huning. Yi Wang The Washington Post Wang, who has just been elevated to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee that rules China, is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the ideological frameworks set out by all three recent Chinese leaders — Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and now Xi Jinping with his “Chinese dream.” Wang’s ... Read More »

Why social media may not be so good for democracy

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Recent revelations about how Russian agents inserted ads on Facebook, in an attempt to influence the 2016 election, present a troubling question: Is Facebook bad for democracy? Gordon Hull The Conversation As a scholar of the social and political implications of technology, I believe that the problem is not about Facebook alone, but much larger: Social media is actively undermining some of the social conditions that have historically made democratic nation states possible. I understand that’s a huge claim, and ... Read More »

Leader comment: MPs found guilty of sexual harassment deserve to lose their jobs

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WE have not, it seems almost certain, heard the end of serious allegations of sexual harassment and assault against male politicians. The Scotsman With each day, more depressing details of the shameful abuse of power by men in positions of authority emerge. Both Westminster and Holyrood are now tainted by a scandal which has already ended a number of high-flying careers and looks certain to scupper many more. It is surely clear that, painful though the weeks ahead may be ... Read More »