Leadership

Democracy in meltdown as East Timorese PM denounces ‘coup’

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The prime minister of East Timor is refusing to allow parliament to reconvene because he will face a vote of no confidence. What next? Professor Damien Kingsbury. Crikey international affairs commentator As East Timor went to elections this year, the country was the most peaceful and united it had been in its short history. The CNRT-Fretilin government of national inclusion had functioned well, it appeared that the ‘Generation of ‘75’ exemplified by Xanana Gusmao, was stepping back from politics and, with the ... Read More »

What Putin Really Wants

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Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius He’s really just a gambler who won big. Julia Ioffe The Atlantic I. The Hack The large, sunny room at Volgograd State University smelled like its contents: 45 college students, all but one of them male, hunched over keyboards, whispering and quietly clacking away among empty cans of Juicy energy drink.“It looks like they’re just picking at their screens, but the battle is intense,” Victor Minin said as we ... Read More »

A confident and upbeat Putin goes on Mideast ‘victory’ tour

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Ρussian President Vladimir Putin declared “victory” in Syria during a surprise visit Monday to a military base there, then traveled to Egypt and Turkey, where he celebrated Moscow’s deepening ties with those key regional powers. Hamza Hendawi and Vladimir Isachenkov Associated Press Chicago Tribune The tour highlighted Russia’s expanded reach in the Middle East and the global clout of its leader, who announced last week he is seeking re-election for another six-year term in March. Speaking to Russian troops on ... Read More »

Greens single out 13 companies that paid no tax yet donated to major parties

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Richard Di Natale says Australian democracy ‘broken’ and system being propped up by Labor and Liberal parties Paul Karp The Guardian Thirteen companies that paid no tax in 2015-16 made $1.7m in political donations to the Liberal and Labor parties in that year, the Greens have complained. On Thursday the Australian tax office released fresh tax data that showed 36% of the 2,043 largest public companies and multinational entities in Australia paid no tax in 2015-16. An analysis by the Greens cross-referencing the ... Read More »

The GCC’s worst summit

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The future of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is extremely unclear six months into the bitter Qatar crisis. Khalid Al-Jaber Giorgio Cafiero  On December 4, Kuwait hosted the GCC’s annual summit, which marked the sub-regional organisation’s lowest point in its 36-year history. AlJazeera Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended, but absent at the summit were the Bahraini, Emirati, and Saudi heads of state. The summit fell apart within hours, underscoring theinternal damage within the GCC as a result of itsQatar rift. Looking ahead, the… The GCC’s ... Read More »

Powell to leave White House in early 2018

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Former Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell, who joined Donald Trump’s administration last January as an adviser on women’s issues to Ivanka Trump and rose quickly to become deputy national security adviser with a heavy hand in Middle East issues, will be departing the administration early next… Annie Karni Politico “Dina Powell has been a key, trusted advisor in this administration,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Friday. “She has always planned to serve one year before returning ... Read More »

Meet NSW’s Young Volunteer 2017: The 11-year-old mechanic fixing bikes for kids in need

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Tia Brennen was holidaying at a caravan park with her family when she found a few broken bicycles ditched by the rubbish bin, sparking an idea in the young girl’s mind. Justine Landis-Hanley The Sydney Morning Herald Over the next year, the 11-year-old – who had never fixed a bike before – and her dad restored over 320 abandoned bikes to donate to children in need. On Friday, she was named Young Volunteer of the Year at the 2017 NSW Volunteer of the ... Read More »

Poland’s Macron? Morawiecki takes the helm

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Poland’s soon-to-be Prime Minister Morawiecki has two years until the next elections to show if he will go down as another Jaroslaw Kaczynski puppet or a modernizing force. Jo Harper The ex-banker has his work cut out for him. DW The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party – led by founder and head Jaroslaw Kaczynski – on Thursday picked Mateusz Morawiecki, currently finance minister, to replace incumbent Prime Minister Beata Szydlo. Two years after coordinating the election campaign that saw ... Read More »

Obama invokes Nazi Germany in warning about today’s politics

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Washington (CNN) – Former President Barack Obama urged voters this week to stay engaged in democracy, warning that complacency was responsible for the rise of Nazi Germany. Miranda Green  “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we’ve seen societies where that happens,” Obama said at the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday, according to video of the event. “Now, presume there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or ’30s ... Read More »

Trump travel ban: Supreme Court lets restrictions take full effect

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The US Supreme Court has ruled President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six mainly Muslim countries can go into full effect, pending legal challenges. BBC The decision is a boost for Mr Trump’s policy against travellers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The ruling covers the third version of the directive that the president has issued since taking office. Seven of the nine justices lifted injunctions on Monday imposed by lower courts against the policy. Only liberal Justices ... Read More »

Yes, the President Can Obstruct Justice

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You know you have a problem when you’ve been president for less than 11 months and you’re already relying on Richard Nixon’s definition of what’s legal. The Editorial Board The New York Times On Monday morning, Axios reported that Mr. Trump’s top personal lawyer, John Dowd, said in an interview that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution and “has every right to express his view of any case.” This will come as news ... Read More »

Dutch prime minister says more EU integration ‘not the answer’

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Mark Rutte’s speech was a direct challenge to the ideas of French President Emmanuel Macron MAÏA DE LA BAUME Politico AMSTERDAM — A “federal Europe” and “more integration” is not the answer to the EU’s problems, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a speech Saturday challenging French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of a more integrated Europe. The Dutch prime minister — who was speaking at the annual congress of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) — ... Read More »

Pope Francis asks for forgiveness from Rohingya refugees

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Pope Francis has used the term “Rohingya” for the first time during his current trip to Asia to refer to refugees who have fled in large numbers from violence in Myanmar. ABC Reuters “The presence of God today is also called Rohingya,” he said in an improvised remark after meeting 16 refugees brought to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka from their camps in Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar. “In the name of all of those who have persecuted you, ... Read More »

Sogyal Rinpoche and the abuse accusations rocking the Buddhist world

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Punching. Emotional abuse. Eye-popping sexual misdeeds. David Leser The accusations made against Sogyal Rinpoche – a key lama in the uptake of Buddhist principles by the West – have rocked devotees, including many in the top echelons of Australian business. The Canberra Times On a late September evening this year, a group of leading Australian business figures gathered in a Sydney boardroom to discuss a series of allegations that had scandalised the Buddhist world, and shaken their own to the core. ... Read More »

Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying About Trump Sabotage of Security Council Resolution Against Israel Settlements

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This morning, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts with Jared Kushner to torpedo a United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. Richard Silverstein CounterPunch These included lobbying the Russian ambassador to help in this campaign by delaying or cancelling a vote on the matter. Earlier today, I published a new column in Middle East Eye (MEE) which outlined the case against Kushner. Here’s how the Times laid out the… ... Read More »

Flynn’s Plea Raises New Questions About Whether Trump Obstructed Justice

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Before firing then-FBI Director James Comey, the president reportedly asked him not to prosecute the former national-security adviser. Adam Serwer The Atlantic  Former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s plea deal in the Russia investigation raises new questions about whether the president sought to obstruct justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy,” President Trump told Comey in February, according ... Read More »