Australasia

Asylum seeker boat turn-back questions going unanswered by Government, says UNHCR

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The United Nations refugee agency has asked Australia to prove it is not breaching the Refugee Convention with its policy of turning back asylum seeker boats. Speaking in Jakarta, the UNHCR’s regional representative says the Australian Government has not responded to the UN’s concerns about the policies. The request for information was made in January. UNHCR regional representative James Lynch ... Read More »

Police raid Dr Philip Nitschke’s pro-suicide group in WA

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VOLUNTARY euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has warned members of his pro-suicide group Exit to say nothing to police after a series of raids on elderly members in Western Australia looking for illegally imported drugs. Speaking from his base in Adelaide today, Dr Nitschke said police were harassing elderly people looking for the suicide drug Nembutal. “Exit warns members to ... Read More »

Forget democracy, we need a new way to govern

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Ten years ago, in 2004, I decided to jump off the merry-go-round of political party fund-raisers. I found both the rubber chicken and the political offering equally unappetising. My Liberal and Labor party hosts, on the other hand, seemed perfectly articulate and competent. Yet for me, they came across as salesmen more than statesmen. When I asked once whether there ... Read More »

Nauru breaching international law, says UN

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Nauru is breaching its international obligations by failing to establish an independent body to investigate torture and human rights abuses in the detention centre. The Nauruan government has also refused access to several United Nations groups wanting to inspect the centre. Questions have been raised about Australia’s “disintergrating” relationship with the small island nation, which houses 1179 asylum seekers, and whether ... Read More »

Indonesia makes veiled criticism of Tony Abbott as Marty Natalegawa emphasises human rights of asylum seekers

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The Indonesian Foreign Minister has again made a series of implied criticisms of Australia’s asylum seeker policies, saying the problem “defies national solutions” and any policy should protect the human rights of smuggling victims. Without specifically mentioning the Abbott government’s boat turn-back policy, Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Monday that “shared responsibility, not shifting of responsibility,” was the way forward. ... Read More »

Chagos Islands dispute: court to rule on UK sovereignty claim

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Success of case could lead to return of hundreds of exiled islanders who were forced to leave archipelago – Jump to comments Britain’s sovereignty over the Chagos Islands and America’s lease for the Diego Garcia military base could be thrown into doubt by an international court hearing due to open in Istanbul on Tuesday. It is considered of such importance ... Read More »

John Underkoffler: Pointing to the future of UI

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http://www.ted.com Minority Report science adviser and inventor John Underkoffler demos g-speak — the real-life version of the film’s eye-popping, tai chi-meets-cyberspace computer interface. Is this how tomorrow’s computers will be controlled? TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives ... Read More »

Science funding cuts are vandalism

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Sixty years ago, the then prime minister Robert Menzies was hailing the achievements of the CSIRO as ”miracles”. In 1953, Menzies used the CSIRO to illustrate the point that some in society who contributed substantially to progress were most often unrecognised. The context for Menzies’ comments was the part the CSIRO had played in assisting the economy through breakthroughs in ... Read More »

Dementia, it’s all in the mind

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Everyone forgets things – even premiers. But those middle-aged memory lapses do not necessarily presage the onset of dementia. Is it possible, from a scientific point of view, that former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell had a ”senior moment” when he forgot about the $3000 bottle of wine he received as a gift? Kind of. At 56,   O’Farrell is deep into ... Read More »