Opinion

Andy Pollak: Vacuous Brexit talk could yield to creative solution

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Regulatory line of Irish Sea far easier and less disruptive than land border The challenge of preventing a “hard” border between the two parts of Ireland is among the obstacles preventing the UK and the EU moving on to the second phase of Brexit talks, the future trading relationship that the former is so desperate to find agreement on. Andy Pollak The Irish Times When they think about Ireland at all, the British side is still talking vacuously about a ... Read More »

Days before the forced closure of Manus, we have no safe place to go

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As refugees we are faced with the threat of either the navy occupying the detention centre if we stay or angry locals if we leave Only a few days remain until the Australian government meets its self-imposed deadline and closes the prison that it created on Manus Island. Behrouz Boochani The Guardian On 31 October the imprisoned refugees are supposed to be transferred from the regional processing centre (RPC) to the small town of Lorengau. It is a place that ... Read More »

After years in dangerous limbo the men on Manus must be brought to safety

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While my Australian friends share photos of weddings and work, the posts from Manus depict fear and mistreatment. We’re at a crisis point Georgie Bright “People have lost hope,” Aziz tells me. The Guardian “What energy they have – they want to use it to survive. They are desperate and powerless. They never think about their future.” I look across the table at the man in front of me – at 24 he is about my age, wearing the same ... Read More »

Russia: 100 years without a revolution

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In Oscar Wilde’s story, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, the main character wanted to blow up one of his relatives. Roman Dobrokhotov Al Jazeera Because he didn’t know anything about bombs, he decided to turn to someone with experience. Who in London could he ask for advice? A Russian nihilist, of course! In the late 19th century, Russians were always thought to be associated with revolutionary struggle and political terrorism. There is nothing surprising about that. Crowds of Russian anarchist intellectuals living ... Read More »

Newton Emerson: Catalan crisis a double-edged sword for Sinn Féin

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Making comparisons with Spanish situation only serves to show how accommodating UK is The Dáil debated the Catalan crisis on Tuesday at Sinn Féin’s request. Newton Emerson The Irish Times How long before the republican party realises this topic is a double-edged sword? The worse the crisis in Spain becomes, the more it undermines separatist positions inside the UK – and that applies to Scottish nationalists as much as to Irish republicans. Yet both are clinging ever more tightly to ... Read More »

Talking Point: Prevent crime for a safer society

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Do we care about our community safety or is it that we only want bad behaviour and criminal behaviour punished, no matter what? Grant Herring Do we really understand the real cost of crime and punishment? The Mercury Do we care about the outcomes of imprisonment? These are not simple questions when the complexity of their resolution is steeped in that Anglo-Saxon culture which transported wrongdoers from a nation with jails so overcrowded that prison hulks were deployed. Is imprisonment ... Read More »

Martyn McLaughlin: National park idea has fallen from favour

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It’s 14 years since the second national park was created, and it’s likely to be the last, writes Martyn McLaughlin For a nation spoilt with an abundance of breathtaking landscapes, it is perhaps surprising that Scotland had to rely on a Welshman to alert the wider world to its… Martyn McLaughlin The Scotsman When Thomas Pennant, a naturalist and antiquarian, set out on his travels in the summer of 1769, he was ploughing a lonely furrow. Few people wished to ... Read More »

There is a bright spot amid the world’s problems and we should mark it

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It’s easy to get a bit depressed by the state of the world’s problems, so we should take a moment to mark the triumphs. Peter Hartcher  One of the world’s most malicious and vicious groups, Daesh, which wants to be called Islamic State, has just been crushed. The Sydney Morning Herald  It’s been crushed in the Middle East and, simultaneously, crushed in South East Asia. To its credit, Australia is one of only three countries that joined the effort in ... Read More »

High court proves we have free speech against environmental wreckers

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Adani and the loggers should watch out – we have a right to peaceful protest to protect our environment Bob Brown The Guardian The high court has drawn a line in the sand against laws which burden the right of Australians to peaceful protest. The court made no judgement on Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman’s decision to flatten the Lapoinya state forest in northwest Tasmania against the wishes of the local community. But it struck down his Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) ... Read More »

Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown

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The shocking collapse of insect populations hints at a global ecological meltdown George Monbiot The Guardian Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the… This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on ... Read More »

Here’s How to Pull Turkey Back From the Brink

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Erdogan gets more authoritarian, and closer to Russia and Iran, every day. But kicking him out of NATO would make things worse. James Stavridis Bloomberg Since its founding nearly a century ago, Turkey’s foreign policy goal has been summed up in a simple phrase: “No problems with our neighbors.” But the situation today is different: “all our neighbors have problems.” And the Turks have plenty of their own. There is no understating how important it is that the U.S. and ... Read More »

The Church’s child abuse record doesn’t disqualify it from opposing same-sex marriage

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Author Anna Krien’s recent condemnation of the church’s apparent hypocrisy (The Age, 17/10) in arguing that heterosexual marriage is best for children while being guilty of failing to address historical child abuse appears convincing Kevin Donnelly Brisbane Times A closer reading, though, reveals it for what it is. While Krien’s argument is emotionally persuasive she fails to provide a rational argument linking the two. Yes, the church clearly opposes same-sex marriage but to simply dismiss its arguments because of its ... Read More »

Fintan O’Toole: The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back

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George Bernard Shaw knew that the rich are no better than the poor. But though the argument seemed settled then, it now rages more fiercely than ever. Fintan O’Toole The Irish Times If you know Alfred Doolittle only from Stanley Holloway’s infinitely lovable portrayal of him in My Fair Lady, you might not realise that he’s a bit of a monster. In George Bernard Shaw’s original play, Pygmalion, he arrives in high dudgeon at the home of Henry Higgins, who ... Read More »

‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own

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<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/282073db076992a654b86d39036af719/content.css”/> In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master the ancient Chinese board game of Go … with no human help Ian Sample The Guardian Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three ... Read More »

China vs. Japan: Asia’s Other Great Game

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Beijing and Tokyo will undoubtedly compete long after U.S. foreign policy has evolved. Asia’s Other Great Game Michael Auslin The National Interest THE SPECTER of the world’s two strongest nations competing for power and influence has created a convenient narrative for pundits and observers to claim that Asia’s future, perhaps even the world’s, will be shaped, in ways both large and small, by the United States and China. From economics to political influence and security issues, American and Chinese policies ... Read More »

Study calls for less shame and secrecy around menstruation in global conflict areas

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A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that girls and women in emergency contexts have inadequate access to safe and private facilities and supplies for menstrual hygiene management (MHM), and are provided with insufficient guidance by response teams on the… EurekAlert! Moreover, many staff have a limited understanding of what an improved response should entail, and… The study, published in the journal Conflict and Health, is one ... Read More »