Features

Obamacare: Texas court rules key health law is unconstitutional

A federal judge in the US state of Texas has ruled that a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. BBC Twenty states argued the whole law was invalidated by a change in tax rules last year which eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance. President Donald Trump said the ruling was great news for America. The law’s provisions will, however, remain in place until an appeal is heard at the US ... Read More »

As Kurdish fighters move on last Isis-controlled town in Syria, Turkey threatens attack

Syria’s main Kurdish parties called Turkey’s warnings a ‘declaration of war’ Richard Hall Independent Kurdish forces are on the brink of capturing the last town under Isis control in Syria – but before that battle is over they might have to face a Turkish invasion. The town of Hajin, on the banks of the Euphrates river in eastern Syria, is Isis’s last holdout in the country. After three months of intense fighting, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Friday that it had taken most of the ... Read More »

Government to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but keeps embassy in Tel Aviv

The Australian Government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but will not immediately move its embassy from Tel Aviv. Jade Macmillan ABC It is understood Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the decision during a speech in Sydney today. He is also expected to acknowledge the aspirations of Palestinians for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network said it was dismayed by the Prime Minister’s plan, which it argued would ... Read More »

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign

Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to arrange hush-money payments with two women because then-candidate Trump “was very concerned about how this would affect the election” if… By George Stephanopoulos, Eric Avram, Eliana Larramendia James Hill abc NEWS Cohen’s comments are his first since being sentenced earlier this week to three years in federal prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress and two campaign finance violations in connection with the… “I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Cohen told ABC ... Read More »

‘Everyone has time to sit down and have a coffee’: Fitzroy cafe bans takeaway coffees

Fitzroy cafe Napier Quarter is banning takeaway coffee in a bid to get its customers to slow down. Cara Waters The Age “Our customers are all locals and they enjoy the ritual and part of their day is sitting down and having a coffee or pastry,” owner Daniel Lewis says. “There is a conglomerate of people standing around with backpacks, on their phones, and it takes away from the experience. It’s turning into a takeaway generation, it’s not what we ... Read More »

Hours before her collapse in U.S. custody, a dying migrant child’s condition went unnoticed

Twenty-seven hours before she died at an El Paso children’s hospital, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal walked across the U.S. border with her father and 161 other migrants outside Antelope Wells, N.M. Nick Miroff * The Washington Post It was 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 6, and the small, remote U.S. border crossing was closed for the night. There were four Border Patrol agents on duty, and no medical staff. The migrants skirted barriers and crossed into the United States. Like most Central American asylum ... Read More »

Reviving UN Mediation on Iraq’s Disputed Internal Boundaries

The fallout is settling after the Iraqi army’s seizure of territories disputed between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region. ICG More conflict over these areas, particularly oil-rich Kirkuk, is predictable. The UN should take advantage of today’s quiet to explore negotiations on the contested lands’ status. What’s new?  Following parliamentary and regional elections this year, Baghdad and Erbil are forming new governments. This presents a fresh opportunity to settle longstanding disputes between them. One of their principal disputes concerns the ... Read More »

Gordon Brown: I didn’t think I’d see child poverty again in my lifetime

Ex-chancellor’s tax credits started to erase problem – but universal credit reverses trend Gordon Brown is on familiar territory. Larry Elliott The Guardian The former prime minister is parked on a sofa in a family centre in the heart of his old constituency and holding forth about poverty. The venue, a family centre called the Cottage, is in the Templehall part of Kirkcaldy and easy to miss. The poverty that it is helping to alleviate is not. When it launched its ... Read More »

Australia has much to celebrate – and to fear

An acquaintance was walking his dog along the promenade at Sydney’s Manly beach one beautiful morning recently. Peter Hartcher WAtoday He describes the golden sun sparkling on the waves, the mild breeze, the grace of the surfers, the people strolling and jogging, enjoying the early calm under the soaring Norfolk pines. He happened to pass one of the many park benches overlooking the ocean, where three older blokes sat contemplating the scene, pudgy hands clasped across substantial bellies. “Yeah,” he overheard ... Read More »

Suppression orders in Australia: why you can’t read what you may want to

After Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said he would overhaul the state’s use of orders, here is a guide to the legal bans Naaman Zhou The Guardian What is a suppression order? A suppression order is made when a court prohibits the disclosure of information about a legal case. These are ordered in Australia for a variety of reasons – in the interest of national security, to protect the safety of witnesses, or to guarantee a fair trial. They can be ... Read More »

10 organisations sign up to improve criminal justice sector

Ten organisations from the legal profession, judiciary and government, have signed an agreement to collaboratively improve the wellbeing of those working in the criminal justice sector. Emma Ryan Lawyers Weekly The 10 signatories to the Statement of Shared Commitment to improve wellbeing across the sector are: the Criminal Bar Association, Victoria Police, the Judicial College of Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, the… In signing the agreement, the group has committed to working together to find ways to reduce stress on those working ... Read More »

Role reversal: China cites human rights in spat with Canada

When China’s government recently protested the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, it used something rarely heard from Beijing — the language of… David Webster The Conversation “The detention without giving any reason violates a person’s human rights,” a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said. In using this sort of “rights talk,” China is not simply jumping on the fact that Meng was in detention on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ... Read More »

China: Repression of Christian Church Intensifies

Protestant Pastor, Dozens of Congregants Detained (New York) – Chinese authorities should immediately release the pastor and scores of members of an independent Protestant church in the southwestern city of Chengdu, Human Rights Watch said today. HRW Authorities should also return church properties and allow the members to resume worship services. On December 9 and 10, 2018, police officers in Chengdu took into custody Pastor Wang Yi and more than 100 congregants of the Early Rain Covenant Church from the ... Read More »

We can’t fix violence against women until we see this as an epidemic

The day I heard that Olga Edwards’s children had been murdered by their father in July this year, I rang the only women I know who would really understand. Jenna Price Brisbane Times Rosie Batty and Ann O’Neill. Their children were killed in front of them. Just writing those words is chilling. We take our children with us in our hearts everywhere, every day. They are at once the reason we live and the elephant on our shoulders. Their death ... Read More »

Book Excerpt – Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy.

Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes present the second edition of their important work on this timely topic. China has a dream. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials tell us so. Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes The National Interest President Xi Jinping, who ranks first among them, made “Chinese Dream” his credo soon after ascending to China’s top post in 2012. And this is no mere slogan; it encapsulates CCP officialdom’s vision of China’s purposes and aspirations, first and foremost of which ... Read More »

Nature is a rich source of medicine – if we can protect it

The Pacific yew tree is a fairly small and slow growing conifer native to the Pacific Northwest. The Gila monster is a lizard with striking orange and black markings from the drylands of the Southwestern US and Mexico. Authors: The Conversation Two very different organisms, but with a fascinating connection. They’ve both given us drugs that have saved and improved the lives of millions of people. Paclitaxel, originally isolated in 1971 from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, is ... Read More »