Society

2017 Nobel Economics Prize awarded to Richard Thaler for contribution to behavioural economics

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An American academic whose research into behavioural economics showed people do not always make rational financial decisions has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Economics Prize. ABC Reuters/AP The 9-million-kronor ($1.4-million) prize was given to Richard Thaler for his “understanding [of] the psychology of economics” Swedish Academy of Sciences secretary Goeran Hansson said. Professor Thaler is considered one of the founding fathers of behavioural economics, a field that shows that far from being the rational decision-makers described in economic theory, people ... Read More »

Germany has developed a set of ethical guidelines for self-driving cars

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The German federal government will adopt new guidelines for self-driving cars inside the country, which will prioritize the value and equality of human life over damage to property or animals. Dave Gershgorn  World Economic Forum These guidelines, presented on Aug. 23 by an ethics committee on automated driving, stress that self-driving cars must do the least amount of harm if put into a situation where hitting a human is unavoidable, and cannot discriminate based on age, gender, race, disability, or ... Read More »

World leaders have failed refugees. Can ordinary citizens teach them a lesson?

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Two years ago an image of a little boy in a red T-shirt, face down on a Mediterranean beach, brought home the full horror of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Europe’s shores. Charmain Mohamed World Economic Forum Alan Kurdi, from the Syrian town of Kobani, was just three years old when he, together with his mother and his older brother, drowned on the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece. While the crisis was not news, it briefly seemed that the ... Read More »

Tougher German Rules Leave Refugee Families in the Lurch

Portrait of Tabarak Karakouz, a 21 years old Syrian refugee, inside her home outskirts Tripoli.  Lebanon. She got married 3 years ago. Her husband is in Germany. Her daughter died. She spends all the day watching old pictures and dreaming with a better life with her husband in Europe. July 2017.  Diego Ibarra Sánchez / MeMo for DER SPIEGEL

Left Behind When German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed hundreds of thousands of men into the country, many of the refugees believed they would be able to bring their families later. Now the rules have changed, and countless women and children are trapped in perilous situations. Katrin Elger and Asia Haidar Spiegel She stands at the window in a floor-length dress, with a blue headscarf, and looks out at the Mediterranean. A fan hums in the next room. Children play soccer ... Read More »

Anti-vaccination advocate Kent Heckenlively denied entry to Australia by minister Peter Dutton

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One of the world’s most prominent anti-vaccination advocates has been denied entry to Australia due to his “dangerous” views. Henry Belot ABC Kent Heckenlively was planning to visit Australia later this year for an international tour calling on parents to stop vaccinating their children. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made the decision to deny Mr Heckenlively entry, saying his views were not welcome in Australia. “These people who are telling kids, telling parents that their kids shouldn’t be vaccinated are dangerous ... Read More »

Strangers R Us: Why Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is Bitter, Stupid And Counter-Productive

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If you think our society is ‘too soft’ on the vulnerable, you probably need to find another society, writes Sue Stevenson. New Matilda It’s apparently easy to persuade lots of people to be cool with their government treating others like criminals. All you need to do is wedge yourself in underneath the bitterness of their life, and then use it as a lever to fling them really hard into the idea that other people are getting an easy ride. That’s ... Read More »

Violent evictions of refugees in Rome reveal inhumanity of modern democracy

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“If they throw something, break their arm,” a police officer was overhead on video saying to anti-riot police on August 24 who were running after refugees and migrants near Rome’s central train station. Mariangela Palladino The Conversation The migrants were gathering there after police violently removed a group who had been occupying the city’s Piazza Indipendenza. Five days earlier, when around 800 Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants and refugees were forcibly evicted from a nearby squat on via Curtatone, some emptied ... Read More »

Defeated by high legal costs: the terrible injustice most of us could face

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It’s one of the most glaring gaps between theory and practice in our community, a huge disconnect between our democracy and our economy. A terrible injustice most of us could face. Everyone knows about it, but it’s rarely discussed. Ross Gittins Brisbane Times What is it? The prohibitively high cost of justice. We’re all supposed to be equal before the law, but you ain’t anything like equal if they can afford a lawyer and you can’t. The president of the ... Read More »

Dutton should learn to live with lawyers helping in matters of life and death

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Mandatory detention and boat turn-backs have been proposed – and rejected – in the past. How have we moved from a humanitarian approach to this cruelty? Claire Higgins The Guardian <linkrel=”stylesheet”type=”text/css”href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/4c4e9fc6f6275cf538d9f9f274cb7afd/content.css”/> Lawyers who defend asylum seekers, the immigration minister believes, are ”un-Australian”. Peter Dutton is not the first minister to level criticism at asylum seeker advocates. But history shows that things could – and should – have turned out very differently. Speaking in the wake of news that the Turnbull ... Read More »

Artificial intelligence researchers must learn ethics

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Scientists who build artificial intelligence and autonomous systems need a strong ethical understanding of the impact their work could have. James Harland Conversation More than 100 technology pioneers recently published an open letter to the United Nations on the topic of lethal autonomous weapons, or “killer robots”. These people, including the entrepreneur Elon Musk and the founders of several robotics companies, are part of an effort that began in 2015. The original letter called for an end to an arms ... Read More »

The Promise of Fiscal Money

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ATHENS – Western capitalism has few sacred cows left. It is time to question one of them: the independence of central banks from elected governments. Yanis Varoufakis Project Syndicate The rationale for entrusting monetary policy fully to central banks is well understood: politicians, overly tempted during the electoral cycle to create more money, pose a threat to economic stability. While progressives have always protested that central banks can never be truly independent, because their autonomy from elected officials increases their ... Read More »

China, Japan and the Energy Quest in the East China Sea

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In early August 2017, Japan lodged a protest with China over its gas exploration in a disputed area of the East China Sea. Confirming the presence of a Chinese drillship close to Tokyo’s proposed median line, Japan accused China of conducting “unilateral development in the area” which remains yet to be demarcated between the two countries. IPP Review Amrita Jash In its defence against Tokyo’s accusations, Beijing categorically pointed out that its oil and gas activities in the maritime areas in ... Read More »

Churches offer sanctuary to asylum seekers affected by welfare crackdown

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Australia’s Christian churches are offering sanctuary to 100 asylum seekers caught up in a Government welfare crackdown affecting those who were originally transported to Australia for medical treatment. Lexy Hamilton-Smith ABC Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said those whose treatment had been finalised would no longer receive financial assistance from the Government. The asylum seekers have been meeting with Immigration officials over the last two days to discuss cuts to their assistance. However, if they can find a way to ... Read More »

The Hajj and the Struggle for Islamic Hegemony

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The ethnic Sunni-Shiite rift parallels the Saudi-Iranian political rift, the Wahhabi-Muslim Brotherhood ideological rift, and the historic rift between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar BESA Tensions over Islamic hegemony arising from these rifts are likely to come to a boil at the 2017 Hajj. Wednesday, August 23, 2017, is the first day of Zhu–l-Hijjat, the Muslim month in which two important events take place: the pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the most central ... Read More »

EU Commission bans Baltic Sea eel fishing, while increasing quotas for herring and salmon

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The European Commission proposes a decrease for the Baltic fishing opportunities by 7% compared to 2017, offering a highly differentiated proposal by the type of fishery for 2018. Irene Kostaki NewEurope The proposal, which is a part of a long-term approach, aims to adjust and maintain the level of fishing at long-term sustainable levels, ensuring a stable fishing pressure, higher quotas and hence an improved income for fishermen and their families. Decisions taken on the Baltic fishing opportunities over the ... Read More »

‘Extraordinary attack’: Lawyers angry at Peter Dutton’s ‘Un-Australian’ remark

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The Law Council of Australia has labelled as “truly extraordinary” the Immigration Minister’s remarks about lawyers representing asylum seekers. Rashida Yosufzai SBS  The nation’s peak legal body has hit out at Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for claiming lawyers who represent certain asylum seekers are un-Australian. Mr Dutton’s comments around the issue came while discussing the federal government’s plans to kick off dozens of asylum seekers brought to Australia for medical treatment off welfare and social housing. In an intervew with ... Read More »