Global Issues

Howard govt feared slow Y2K bug preparations, cabinet documents reveal

Predictions of a chaotic IT collapse brought on by the Y2K bug had the Howard government fearing Australia was unready for the worst, previously classified documents reveal. Doug Dingwall Brisbane Times As the year 2000 approached, the federal government in 1997 took seriously the warnings that the new millennium’s arrival could play havoc with electricity, hospitals and traffic lights. The “millennium bug”, cast by some as a looming apocalypse, brought on hundreds of billions in estimated spending worldwide to avoid catastrophe. ... Read More »

Trump gives in to calls to slow down troop pullout from Syria

United States President Donald Trump has given in to pressure to slow down his planned troop pullout from Syria, permitting the US military four months to withdraw. PreesTV The New York Times reported the decision on Monday. Trump had initially given the American forces 30 days for the procedure. The American president had hinted at a more extensive pullout timetable earlier on Monday, tweeting about “slowly sending our troops back home.” Many military and Pentagon officials had sought to entirely change the president’s mind ... Read More »

In shutdown, national parks transform into Wild West — heavily populated and barely supervised

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. — The government shutdown has left America’s national parks largely unsupervised. No one is at the gate. No one is collecting a fee. Meghann Cuniff , John Waters and Joel Achenbach The Washington Post The visitor centers are closed. There are some law enforcement and emergency personnel on site, but certainly nothing as standard as a park ranger who can answer a question. People are streaming into the parks, enjoying the free access, but they’re finding trash cans overflowing ... Read More »

Coronation of King Rama X set for early May, Thai palace says

Elaborate ceremony to be held from May 4 to 6, Royal Household Bureau announces Asia Times A three-day coronation ceremony will be held in early May for Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Royal Household Bureau announced on Tuesday. The “new” king – who is 66 and known as Rama X of the Chakri dynasty – will be crowned in an elaborate ceremony to be held from May 4 to 6, it said in a televised announcement. “It’s a suitable time ... Read More »

Organ donor ‘opt-out only’ policy could mean fewer transplants

A proposal to automatically make people organ donors could reduce the number of available organs, the authority in charge of the system says. ABC Sunshine Coast – By Alex Easton and Sheridan Stewart ABC The idea of forcing people who do not want to donate their organs to opt out of the organ donor register is one of several aimed at combating an illegal international black-market trade that has some organs selling for hundreds of thousands of… The idea was raised in the recommendations of a report to ... Read More »

Brazil swears in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil has sworn in former army captain President Jair Bolsonaro, amid tight security. The far-right politician, an admirer of the country’s former military dictatorship, pledged to rid the country of “ideological ties.” DW Bolsonaro was sworn in as at president on Tuesday, promising to overhaul the country’s economy and bring about sweeping social change. An aficionado of US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro rose to power on a pro-gun, anti-corruption agenda. Speaking in an address to the nation on Tuesday, Bolsonaro said, now ... Read More »

NSW institutions can now be sued for abuse

The NSW government has eliminated a legal defence used by churches to avoid being sued by victims of child sex abuse. SBS AAP Victims of child sex abuse in NSW can now sue the church after the state government removed a legal roadblock used by institutions to avoid compensating survivors. From January 1 churches will no longer be able to use the “Ellis defence” as a way of avoiding paying compensation. In 2007 former altar boy John Ellis lost a ... Read More »

Archbishop of Canterbury urges openness in new year message

Justin Welby says country should try to overcome recent struggles and divisions Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The archbishop of Canterbury has urged the country to start 2019 in a “new spirit of openness towards each other” in an attempt to overcome the struggles and divisions of recent years. Justin Welby was delivering a new year message from Lambeth Palace, his London base. Acknowledging that the festive period can be stressful for some families – “sometimes we get on each other’s nerves” ... Read More »

Find parenting tough? Be glad you’re not American

I have a news flash: being a grandad beats being a parent. Parenting is now a much tougher gig, whereas grandparenting is all care and no responsibility. And it’s a lot cheaper. Ross Gittins The Age These thoughts are prompted by an article in the New York Times, in which Claire Cain Miller writes that parenthood in the United States has become much more demanding than it used to be. “Over just a couple of generations,” she writes, “parents have greatly ... Read More »

Departing chief of staff John Kelly paints a dim portrait of Trump

Washington: A few months ago, a senior Trump administration official wrote a controversial anonymous oped in the New York Times that said forces within the administration were working to rein in President Donald Trump’s potentially damaging whims. Aaron Blake WAtoday / The Washington Post In an interview, Trump’s departing chief of staff, John Kelly, basically confirmed that’s exactly what has happened for the past two years. “In the phone interview [on] Friday, Kelly defended his rocky tenure, arguing that it is best measured ... Read More »

Turkey’s War on Christian Missionaries

The day after American pastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish prison, another Christian who had been living for nearly two decades in the country was detained by Turkish authorities, and told that he had two weeks to leave the country — without his wife and… Uzay Bulut Gatestone Institute The American-Canadian evangelist, David Byle, not only suffered several detentions and interrogations over the years, but he had been targeted for deportation on three occasions. Each time, he was saved ... Read More »

Australia’s unwanted refugees are living with ‘nightmares’ while building new lives in the US

While a passport seems like a commodity most of us take for granted, Faisal Parvez never had one — or a citizenship. Tasha Wibawa ABC He was born stateless as a persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar. “The biggest dream I have in my life is to become a citizen anywhere on the planet,” he told the ABC. Mr Parvez is one of more than 445 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru who have been resettled in the United States ... Read More »

‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’

Newly knighted cancer scientist Mel Greaves explains why a cocktail of microbes could give protection against disease Robin McKie The Guardian Mel Greaves has a simple goal in life. He is trying to create a yoghurt-like drink that would stop children from developing leukaemia. The idea might seem eccentric; cancers are not usually defeated so simply. However, Professor Greaves is confident and, given his experience in the field, his ideas are being taken seriously by… Based at the Institute of Cancer ... Read More »

Colombia condemns alleged plot to kill president

Colombia‘s foreign minister on Dec. 29 condemned an alleged plot to kill President IvanDuque and said three Venezuelan citizens had been detained in possession of “weapons of war.” BOGOTA – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet “For several months there have been intelligence probes into possible attacks against the life of the president,” Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in a video on the ministry’s social media accounts. He added that three Venezuelans in possession of “weapons of war” had been captured in connection with such plots, without going ... Read More »

‘The world is diminished by the death of Amos Oz, it has narrowed down’

The writer David Grossman pays tribute to his friend, the Israeli novelist and outspoken peace campaigner Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The world has been “narrowed down” by the death of the Israeli literary giant Amos Oz, according to his close friend and fellow author David Grossman. “There will not be another Amos Oz, there was only one like him. You can say this about every human being, of course, but there was something unique about Amos,” Grossman told the Observer. “Those who appreciated ... Read More »

Congo to EU: Mind your own business

An election that’s been delayed for two years is about to be held, and the country has booted out the EU ambassador. Giulia Paravicini Politico KINSHASA — The message from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the EU was loud and not-at-all subtle. The African nation’s decision to expel the EU ambassador, Bart Ouvry, days before a long-delayed election, was done in public, humiliating fashion. On Thursday evening, Congo’s foreign affairs minister gathered the diplomatic community for a meeting in the capital, Kinshasa. ... Read More »