Big Brother’s Long Shadow – Frank McNally on Orwell’s 1984 at 70

Orwell’s 1947 essay ‘Towards European Unity’ is still relevant today Frank McNally The Irish Times Published 70 years ago today, George Orwell’s 1984 contains what has been dubbed “one of the strangest coincidences in literature”. This is because the novel’s villain is a man called “O’Brien” – we never learn his first name – a state agent who befriends the hero, posing as a fellow dissident, before having him arrested for thought-crime. But a decade before the book was written, ... Read More »

‘He is innocent’: Assange ally Ola Bini imprisoned in Ecuador takes case to UN

A close friend of Julian Assange was arrested in Ecuador in April and remains behind bars without charge. SBS Supporters of a Julian Assange ally who is imprisoned in Ecuador without charge have called his ongoing detention “illegal” and want the United Nations to investigate the case. Swedish national Ola Bini, 36, was arrested while trying to leave Ecuador for Japan on 11 April – the day the country withdrew its offer of asylum to Mr Assange, who had taken ... Read More »

Rory Stewart shakes up Tory leadership race

Outsider candidate takes a break from his quixotic campaign for British prime minister to talk Brexit, politics and poetry. Charlie Cooper Politico LONDON — Rory Stewart is running to be prime minister of the United Kingdom but he’s happy to make time for poetry. Having spent days trying to meet him on his quixotic Conservative leadership campaign tour, it’s only when POLITICO suggests talking Brexit through the lens of poetry that we get his full attention. The U.K.’s international development ... Read More »

US, Mexico sign agreement to slow immigration, avoid tariffs

President Donald Trump had threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports unless Mexico acted to slow illegal migration into the US. A new deal means they have avoided the threat, he announced. Deutsche Welle The United States and Mexico have signed an agreement to tackle illegal migration across their border, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday. In May, Trump unexpectedly announced a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports unless Mexico took decisive action to tackle border issues. “I am pleased to inform you that ... Read More »

Facial recognition tech is arsenic in the water of democracy, says Liberty

Human rights group calls on England and Wales to ban police use of AFR in public spaces Ian Sample The Guardian Automated facial recognition poses one of the greatest threats to individual freedom and should be banned from use in public spaces, according to the director of the campaign group Liberty. Martha Spurrier, a human rights lawyer, said the technology had such fundamental problems that, despite police enthusiasm for the equipment, its use on the streets should not be permitted. ... Read More »

Australia’s raids on journalists reflect a creeping surveillance state

This week, Australians woke up to the alarming realization that their government has been quietly promoting a creeping surveillance state at the expense of press freedom and democratic values. Emily Howie The Washington Post It should mark a moment of reckoning for the country and its entire approach to media and public transparency. On Wednesday, officers from the Australian Federal Police appeared at the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s national broadcaster. Armed with a warrant over a 2017 ... Read More »

Five Star struggles to form or join an EU Parliament group

If attempts to rebuild the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group with the Brexit Party fail, 14 Five Star MEPs are likely to slip back into the black-hole of non-attached members, as… By Gerardo Fortuna | EURACTIV.com “All the options are still on the table,” vice-president of the European Parliament and Five Star lawmaker Fabio Massimo Castaldo told reporters on Thursday (6 June), when asked about the… However, not all options are getting equal consideration, as Castaldo himself ruled out the ... Read More »

The woman dubbed Myanmar’s ‘next Aung San Suu Kyi’ warns political system has ‘failed’ the country

Exclusive: The woman who some have likened to Aung San Suu Kyi has declared her nation’s political system has “failed”. By Brett Mason, Nick Baker SBS A young female activist is hoping to help bring “real” democracy to Myanmar – succeeding where her former idol Aung San Suu Kyi has “failed”. Twenty-seven-year-old Thinzar Shunlei Yi is one of several youth activists in the Southeast Asian nation pushing her government to better deliver for its people. Myanmar transitioned from military rule ... Read More »

Sudan: Stopping a Spiral into Civil War

Sudan’s political transition is in great peril following the unprovoked killing of dozens of protesters. ICG The African Union has rightly suspended the country’s membership. Western and Gulf powers should take urgent steps to compel Sudan’s interim leaders to accept a civilian-led transitional administration.  On 3 June, Sudan’s security forces launched a bloody crackdown on unarmed protesters in Khartoum, clearing a sit-in outside the country’s military headquarters and bringing its political transition to a… The horrific rampage left dozens dead ... Read More »

‘Pendulum has swung too far’: Senator pushes for US-style press freedom protections

The Centre Alliance Party is drafting a bill to enshrine US-style press freedom protection in the constitution. By Rosemary Bolger, Amanda Copp SBS Key crossbench senators will push to amend the constitution to include a US-style press freedom protection in the wake of two unprecedented police raids targeting Australian journalists. Centre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff will introduce legislation proposing an amendment similar to the First Amendment to the United States constitution when Parliament returns next month. “A ... Read More »

Australia doesn’t have a Human Rights Charter. Does it need one?

The Australian Federal Police have raided home of a NewsCorp journalist and the ABC headquarters in Sydney looking for information to do with various stories they say breach… On Mornings with Kia Handley ABC The move has been described as has described the raid as an unprecedent assault on press freedom. The New York Times has called Australia the “worlds most secretive” democracy and there have been calls from legal experts, journalists and former politicians for Australia to implement a… ... Read More »

Grattan on Friday: Media freedom joins the current ‘freedoms’ agenda

Scott Morrison is very concerned to protect freedom of religion, and many Liberals tell us we don’t have enough safeguards for freedom of speech. Michelle Grattan The Conversation Now the prime minister has on his hands a massive, unexpected and, for him, unwelcome argument about media freedom. The public’s right to know is one issue at stake in the furore over the police raids on the home of a News Corp journalist and on the ABC’s Sydney headquarters, as is ... Read More »

EU increases Schengen visa fee to €80

The European Union passed a regulation on June 6 on the visa code regulation to improve conditions for legitimate travelers, as well as increase the tools available to respond to the… Ankara Hurriyet The new regulation includes allowing for applications to be lodged up to 6 months, and no later than 15 days, before the trip, providing for the possibility of the application form to be filled in and… The regulation also increased the costs of visa processing from €60 ... Read More »

Erdoğan reshaped command structure of Turkish troops deployed in Cyprus

Many of the commanding officers of troops that Turkey maintains in divided Cyprus were removed on flimsy evidence as part of a major overhaul of the Turkish military by the… Nordic Monitor Abdullah Bozkurt According to a trove of secret military documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, highly dubious evidence was presented as a pretext for removing senior officers in the… The charges filed against the officers, ranging from coup plotting to terrorism, are believed to simply have been a pretext ... Read More »

Why the raids on Australian media present a clear threat to democracy

The Australian Federal Police has this week conducted two high-profile raids on journalists who have exposed government secrets and their sources. Rebecca Ananian-Welsh The Conversation On Tuesday, seven AFP officers spent several hours searching News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s Canberra home, her mobile phone and computer. The AFP linked the raid to “the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret”. This stemmed from Smethurst’s 2018 article, which contained images of a “top secret” memo and reported that senior government officials were considering ... Read More »

How Brexit is playing into Erdoğan’s hands in Turkey

Turkey is losing its champion in Europe, just as the president distances himself from the EU – and democracy Elçin Poyrazlar The Guardian In the early hours of 4 October, 2005, Jack Straw, the then British foreign secretary, and Abdullah Gül, his Turkish counterpart, walked, tired-eyed and hand-in-hand, into a packed press conference in Luxembourg. The EU had just opened membership talks with Ankara, in what seemed like an answer to the centuries old-question of whether the west should open ... Read More »