Politics

German liberal leader’s ‘midlife crisis’

Christian Lindner, chairman of Germany's liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), waits for the start of a party congress in Berlin on May 12, 2018. (Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Christian Lindner stumbles on after turning down a shot at power in Berlin. By MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG Politico BERLIN — Germans cherish few rituals more than the jaunt to the corner bakery for their daily portion of fresh rye, Brötchen and other leavened delights — so long as politics aren’t in the mix. Just ask Christian Lindner. The leader of Germany’s liberal Free Democrats (FDP) triggered a firestorm this week after regaling a party congress with an anecdote about a young Arab’s visit ... Read More »

Climate change an ‘existential security risk’ to Australia, Senate inquiry says

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Threat is not a possible future one but one endangering Australia now, parliament told Ben Doherty The Guardian Climate change is a “current and existential national security risk” to Australia, a Senate inquiry has told parliament, one that could inflame regional conflicts over food, water and land, and even imperil life on Earth. The Senate committee inquiry into the implications of climate change for Australia’s national security recommended an increase in foreign aid to be dedicated to climate change mitigation and… The inquiry, ... Read More »

Turkish Foreign Minister Warns Damascus Against Attacking Syria’s Idlib Province

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ANKARA (Sputnik) – Any potential attack by the Syrian government forces on the country’s Idlib province may result in a “catastrophe,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday. “Currently the most important issue is for the ceasefire not be violated in Syria. If this is achieved, political settlement will become closer. There are many fragmented terror groups. Our intelligence service and the General Staff are dealing with the matter. We have achieved certain results. If the Syrian regime launches an attack tomorrow under the ... Read More »

Hope and fear surround emerging technologies, but all of us must contribute to stronger governance

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It’s been a big year for companies pushing the boundaries of technology – and not in a good way. The Cambridge Analytica scandal led to a public outcry about privacy, the Commonwealth Bank’s loss of customer data raised concerns about cybersecurity, and a fatal self-driving car crash put the safety of automated systems in the spotlight. Authors: The Conversation These controversies are just the latest warning signs that we urgently need better governance of the technologies redefining the world. There ... Read More »

A Peace Of Fiction: Australia Should Celebrate A National Day Of Violence

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If we’re going to engage in so much violence, then why not celebrate it, ask Gideon Polya and Richard Hil. New Matilda What’s all this talk about peace? Why should Australia celebrate peace when we appear to be such a violence-prone nation? Someone recently suggested that instead of staging peace rallies, Australia should hold a National Violence Day, such is this nation’s dalliance with this most aberrant of practices. No doubt, such views will upset the Pollyannas amongst us, but ... Read More »

Erdogan and Turkey’s Elections

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When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a presidential and parliamentary election June 24—jumping the gun by more than a year—the outcome seemed foreordained: the country is under a state of emergency, Erdogan has imprisoned more than 50,000 of… Conn Hallinan CounterPunch But Erdogan’s seemingly overwhelming strength is not as solid as it appears, and the moves the President is making to insure a victory next month may come back to haunt him in the long run. There is ... Read More »

EU court upholds insecticide ban to protect bees

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An EU court upheld on May 17 a partial ban on three insecticides known as neonicotinoids, saying that the European Commission had been right in 2013 to restrict their use to protect bees. LUXEMBOURG – Reuters Hurriyet The ruling covers three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience, as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam. The court said the European Union’s “precautionary principle” meant that the EU could take measures if there was scientific ... Read More »

Venezuela’s Maduro gets support from Erdogan, Maradona ahead of vote

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CARACAS/BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela’s diplomatically isolated president got a show of support from his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan and Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona on Thursday ahead of a… Alexandra Ulmer, Corina Pons Reuters The United States, the European Union and major Latin American countries have criticized Sunday’s vote in which leftist President Nicolas Maduro is likely to win re-election to a… Critics say Maduro, a 55-year-old former bus driver who has presided over an economic meltdown, is virtually ... Read More »

Quit if you think a policy is immoral, and other advice from Peter Varghese

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What can a public servant do if they have a moral or ethical crisis about working on a current policy of the government? Put up with it or quit. Stephen Easton The Mandarin That is the stark reality, according to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Peter Varghese — unrelated to his own decision to retire from the public service after 38 years to become chancellor of the University of Queensland. The open forum that followed Varghese’s extremely well received ... Read More »

The efficiency myth

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Heard the tale about the private sector always doing things better? Nick Dowson wonders why it still has believers New Internationalist The central myth of neoliberalism – ‘private sector good, public sector bad’ – persists in the face of all evidence to the contrary. The private sector is held up as better, more efficient, the way to modernize… Yet worldwide, hundreds of services are being brought back into public ownership, which suggests that people aren’t buying the hype around greater ... Read More »

New Zealand ‘people’s’ budget sees Ardern put billions more into health and education

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Prime minister says she wants her child to look back and judge efforts favourably rather than want to change their name Eleanor Ainge Roy The Guardian The first Labour government in close to a decade has pledged to make New Zealand a kind and equitable nation where children thrive, and success is measured not only by the nation’s GDP but by better lives lived by its people. Finance minister Grant Robertson said the Labour coalition government didn’t want to “manage” issues such ... Read More »

5 takeaways from EU’s big Balkan get-together

Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama (C) speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron (2ndR) and Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite (2ndL) as they pose for a family photo during an EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia on May 17, 2018. - European Union leaders meet their Balkan counterparts to hold out the promise of closer links to counter Russian influence, while steering clear of openly offering them membership. (Photo by Darko Vojinovic / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DARKO VOJINOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Macron plays party-pooper at leaders’ gathering in Sofia. Andrew Gray Politico SOFIA — It wasn’t a renewal of the wedding vows because the big ceremony never happened. It was two partners declaring they still want to be engaged — even though one is now playing hard to get. Fifteen years ago, EU leaders told their western Balkan counterparts at a summit in Thessaloniki they belonged together — and their countries could one day join the European Union. But only one of those ... Read More »

President Maduro’s Likely Re-election in Breadline Venezuela

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As tens of thousands of Venezuelans stream into neighbouring countries, President Nicolás Maduro appears set to win elections on 20 May. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson looks ahead to the vote and its aftermath and explains why the crisis is likely to deepen. Phil Gunson ICG What is at stake in the 20 May elections? These elections are for the presidency of the republic and for regional legislatures in each of Venezuela’s 23 ... Read More »

Asylum seekers ‘face destitution’ as income support and housing cut off

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Refugee advocates describe cuts, which will affect up to 100 people, as ‘calculated cruelty to vulnerable people’ Helen Davidson The Guardian The federal government is taking away income support and housing from up to 100 refugees and asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru who are currently in Australia for medical treatment. The group, which includes families, elderly people and pregnant women, are among the more than 400 known as the “Let Them Stay” group, and the more than 260 that were party ... Read More »

At a crossroads, Part II: No more shadows: The future of intelligence oversight in Congress

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In the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, M (Judi Dench) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) debate how to respond to a leak that has led to the assassination of several MI6 intelligence agents. Tommy Ross War On The Rocks They are torn between a desire to ensure that MI6, Britain’s premier spy agency, remains a credible part of British democratic institutions and the need to avoid antiquation in the face of rapidly changing technology and… At one point, Mallory laments, “We ... Read More »

Manus Island detention horrors hidden to ‘numb public into submission’: lawyer

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Award-winning Australian human rights lawyer Daniel Webb says there has been a “deliberate” ploy on both sides of politics to “numb the public into submission” and hide the horrors of offshore detention from their view. inkl The Australian-funded detention centres in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru have made multiple headlines over the past fortnight as conditions worsen. Hollywood star Russell Crowe called Manus “a nation’s shame” and said the cruelty it inflicted on its inhabitants was “f***ing disgraceful”. ... Read More »