#NeverAgain: do student protests work? History tells us they can

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When 17 students and teachers were murdered on what should have been a peaceful school day, students across the US took to the streets to demand change. Claire Cooke The Conversation The outpouring of protests in the wake of the tragic mass-shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this year is an important reminder that students can challenge the status quo. The #NeverAgain movement, led by high-school and college students, is asking for gun reform in the US to improve safety in ... Read More »

Religious freedom must not be a green light to discriminate

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As it ponders the role of religious freedom in Australia, the Religious Freedom Review headed by Philip Ruddock would do well to reflect on the real-life scenarios where belief collides with the rights of individuals. Hugh Harris The Canberra Times Should independent schools be able to expel students with gay parents? Should it be lawful for bakers, photographers or florists to refuse same-sex weddings? Yes? No? And why? Providing answers would provide clarity as to the consequences of any proposed ... Read More »

The problem record immigration is supposed to solve doesn’t exist

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Population is “the everything issue”. It affects all aspects of public policy and our daily lives. William Bourke Brisbane Times It is essential to get population policy right if we are to achieve critical public policy outcomes like secure jobs, affordable housing, better planning and a sustainable environment. That is not to say that it is the only reform required in order to achieve these outcomes, but trying to achieve these goals while engineering record population growth is like walking up ... Read More »

Would you choose a partner based on their ‘citizen score’?

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Imagine if everything you did on Facebook or Twitter counted towards a government-imposed ‘citizen score’. Jessica Bown BBC All your online behaviour would be analysed and assessed to come up with a measure of your online reputation, character and trustworthiness. This could then be used by employers to decide whether to offer you a job, by banks to decide whether to give you a loan, or even by prospective partners. Well, China is planning something like this called the Social ... Read More »

After Kenya’s Leaders Reconcile, a Tough Path Ahead

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The meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was an important step toward ending the protracted crisis over last year’s disputed election. To build on the progress, consensus is required on concrete steps that can help safeguard against future polarisation and violence.​ ICG I. Overview The meeting on 9 March 2018 between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was as unanticipated as it is significant. In their joint statement issued after the talks, they promised ... Read More »

Mike Pompeo on Muslims, torture and Guantanamo Bay

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Newly appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a controversial history. Where does he stand on the issues? Creede Newton Al Jazeera The appointment of former CIA director Mike Pompeo as US secretary of state occurred on Tuesday after months of rumours that Rex Tillerson was on the way out. Tillerson was often depicted as a calm hand of “peaceful pressure” while US President Donald Trump usually opted for hasty decisions, bombastic rhetoric, and controversial policy positions. The two men disagreed on many issues, including the Iran ... Read More »

The Next Phase of Finance

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Today’s strengthening economic recovery has not overcome the understandable but devastating loss of trust in the financial system that followed the crisis a decade ago. Restoring trust will require reasserting control over the financial sector, to ensure that it is serving the economy, not the other way around. Bertrand Badré Project Syndicate WASHINGTON, DC – The decade since the global financial crisis has been tumultuous, to say the least. True, no great war has erupted, and we have more or ... Read More »

China gets tough on debt with ‘Rottweiler regulator’

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People’s Bank of China handed increased powers as financial shake-up points to Liu He’s influence Gordon Watts Asia times President Xi Jinping has opened the door for confidante Liu He to push through economic reforms after China’s central bank was handed more power in a major shake-up in the financial sector. Details released during Tuesday’s session of the de facto parliament, the National People’s Congress, outlined plans for merging the banking and insurance regulators. At the same time, the People’s ... Read More »

UN Goodwill Ambassador says Turkish attack on Afrin foreshadows genocide and ethnic cleansing

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UN Goodwill Ambassador and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad on Monday called for a ceasefire in Afrin and called on Turkey to stop the attacks on Afrin that so far have killed over 200 civilians. Wladimir van Wilgenburg The Region “Today, I received information that the area of Afrin inhabited by Kurds, Yazidis and Christians is under siege from all sides. There is only one road through which people can leave the city,” she said in a statement. “200 civilians have ... Read More »

UN: Israel settlements in West Bank, Jerusalem ‘war crime’

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein has described Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem as “war crimes”, Quds Press reported yesterday. MEM According to local media, Al-Hussein’s warnings would be part of a report he is to introduce to the UN Security Council on 19 March. “Building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the social, economic and security facilities given to their residents with the aim to move Zionists to forcefully occupied lands, is a violation ... Read More »

Ai Weiwei: Chinese dissident artist critiques Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers ahead of Sydney Biennale

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He is one of the world’s most famous artists and China’s best known dissident, and 60-year-old Ai Weiwei has a message for Australia when it comes to the treatment of asylum seekers. Philippa McDonald ABC “I struggle with Australia’s record towards refugees,” he said. “Australia is a nation of migrants and its culture accepts and tolerates difference. “But Australia’s refugee record is quite poor internationally. This is a very bad position for a state because people judge states on their ... Read More »

Colombia right wing falls short of majority

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Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with the FARC won historic elections in Colombia on March 11 but fell short of a majority in polls that saw the former rebels enter the Congress. BOGOTA – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet The hardliners’ victory raises questions about the future of the peace agreement signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016. Santos said the polls were “the safest, most transparent elections” in the country’s recent history, with the FARC spurning jungle ... Read More »

Brexit: No-trade deal with EU to cost businesses £58bn a year, research finds

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‘Existential threat’ posed to some UK industries by increased tariffs and customs checks, according to report Ben Chapman Independent A no-deal Brexit would cost companies in the UK and the EU £58bn a year, with Britain’s financial services sector taking the biggest hit, according to new research. The additional direct “red-tape cost” of tariff and non-tariff barriers would be £27bn to UK firms and £31bn to their EU counterparts, a report from consultancy Oliver Wyman and law firm Clifford Chance estimates. “These increased costs and… Brexit: No-trade… Read More »

Hero’s welcome for East Timor border negotiator Xanana Gusmao

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Dili: Thousands of East Timorese have lined the road to the capital’s international airport to cheer independence hero Xanana Gusmao after he led negotiations that settled the sea border with Australia. Oki Raimundos The Canberra Times Gusmao, whose party lost power in parliamentary elections last year, was greeted at Dili’s tiny airport on Sunday with cries of “Viva Xanana Gusmao”. He’d been abroad for the previous eight months leading the final stretch of maritime border talks. Australia and East Timor, one of ... Read More »

The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself

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It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place. Tim Dean The Conversation But when it comes to pinning down a single greatest moral challenge of our time, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much. In fact, ... Read More »

Destroying the notorious Camp X-Ray at Guantánamo is a huge mistake

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Preserving sites with the most shameful or contested histories is critical for building democracy Liz Ševčenko The Guardian The Pentagon this week announced it will tear down Camp X-Ray, the first temporary facility at Guantánamo where “enemy combatants” were imprisoned in 2002. Despite a US federal court’s preservation order, the Pentagon argued it did not need to preserve the physical site because the FBI has created a 3D digital reconstruction. Such a virtual tour is in no way a substitute for preserving the original ... Read More »