Politics

Taiwan becomes first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage

Supporters celebrate as legislation is passed giving gay couples right to marry Lily Kuo The Guardian Taiwan has legalised same-sex marriage, the first of any Asian state, with the passage of legislation giving gay couples the right to marry. Lawmakers on Friday comfortably passed part of a bill that would allow gay couples to enter into “exclusive permanent unions” and apply for marriage registration with government agencies. Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who campaigned on a platform of marriage equality, tweeted after the ... Read More »

Ramadan: how a new generation of British Muslims are becoming more green

Muslims worldwide are about to enter the second half of Ramadan, a month widely known to the public as one for fasting. William Barylo The Conversation However, growing concerns around the environmental crisis and social struggles across the globe have lead Muslims to consider its deeper meaning. For an increasing number of Muslims, Ramadan is interpreted as a time when they distance themselves from material needs, reconnect with nature and spirituality, acknowledge the suffering on the planet and challenge destructive ... Read More »

Mineral wealth, Clive Palmer, and the corruption of Australian politics

Clive Palmer is reportedly spending A$70 million of his own money on his party’s campaign. Warwick Smith The Conversation How is it possible for one individual to command so much wealth and where did it come from? The sad and strange reality is that Australian governments gave him most of it by letting him dig up and sell natural resources that, by rights, belong to us not him. We’ve a history of handing vast wealth to resource and mining magnates ... Read More »

Austrian parliament adopts controversial headscarf ban in elementary schools

Austrian lawmakers have approved controversial plans to ban girls in elementary schools from wearing headscarves, a move that would add to existing restrictions on veils. Daily Sabah Compliled From Wire Services The Austria Press Agency reported that lawmakers from the governing coalition of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the anti-migration Freedom Party (FPÖ) supported the… Kurz’s party conceded that the new headscarf ban is likely to face challenges at Austria’s Constitutional Court, either on grounds of religious ... Read More »

EU Elections: Populists Hope to Do Well in Suburbs

London – The winners and losers in European Parliament elections next week are likely to be determined in the suburbs of the continent’s cities, which are turning into three-way electoral battlegrounds. Jamie Dettmer VoA The elections are being seen as a moment of truth for an array of anti-migrant nationalist populist parties, which hope to reverse European integration. Establishment Conservatives are hoping they can shore up their support in the suburbs in the face of strong challenges from left-wing progressives ... Read More »

Cyprus escalation could drill hole in Irish sacred cow of neutrality

Europe Letter: Danger of war of words escalating into military conflict remains real Patrick Smyth The Irish Times The publication by the Institute of International and European Affairs of a new analysis of Irish neutrality by Prof Patrick Keatinge is timely. It comes just as fellow EU member Cyprus looks to its partners for solidarity – at this stage just political – over the illegal incursion by Turkish drilling ships into its Aegean territorial waters or Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The move, which has ... Read More »

A Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline: Start Small but Aim Big

In the long-run, such a project would yield great economic and geopolitical dividends. Luke Coffey The National Interest In 1906, the first energy pipeline in the South Caucasus was completed, connecting Baku on the Caspian Sea with Batumi on the Black Sea. The pipes used in the construction were actually made in Mariupol, Ukraine—an indication of the broader region’s interconnectedness which prevails to this day. That first pipeline measured a mere eight inches in diameter and transported kerosene. Today, more ... Read More »

Lively debate on interpreting laws at maritime conference

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea not product of the West or ambiguous, says Tommy Koh Lim Min Zhang The Straits Times Differing interpretations of the international law of the sea took centre stage at a maritime conference yesterday involving academics and navy chiefs from around the world. Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh had a spirited exchange with a Chinese academic over whether the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) had involved input from Asian… During ... Read More »

Letter to Sir Alan Duncan – Cyprus

Sir Alan Duncan MP, Minister for Europe and the Americas, Foreign and Commonwealth Office King Charles St, Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2AH                                            London 16 May 2019 Dear Minister, TURKISH LATEST INVASION OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS (EEZ) I refer to your latest reply to (Labour) Rt. Hon  Bambos Charalambous’ question in the House of Commons on 14 May 2019 regarding the latest aggressive Turkish action in invading this time the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus. Cyprus “Bambos Charalambous Will ... Read More »

Thousands of mixed-race British babies were born in World War II – and adoption by their black American fathers was blocked

Around 2.2% of the population of England and Wales is now mixed race and 3.3% are from black ethnic groups. Lucy Bland The Conversation During World War II, over 70 years ago, these figures were far lower. And so unsurprisingly, life was difficult for the 2,000 or so mixed race babies who were born in World War II to black American GIs and white British women. They grew up in predominately white localities and experienced significant racism. I have interviewed ... Read More »

The Centrality of the Rule of Law for the EU

European leaders should do more to preserve the rule of law, which is both a domestic and a foreign policy matter—and the cornerstone of the EU’s outlook and goals. Marc Pierini Carnegie Europe The year 2019 is one of transition for the European Union: European Parliament elections take place in May, the top executive positions in the EU’s institutions are up for renewal in November or… Amid these changes, and with the foreign policy domain crowded with emergencies, it would ... Read More »

NKorea suffering worst drought in decades

North Korea says it is suffering its worst drought in nearly four decades amid reports of severe food shortages. The Canberra Times Australian Associated Press The official Korean Central News Agency said an average of 54.4 millimetres of rain fell throughout the country in the first five months of this year. It said that is the lowest level since 1982, when North Korea received 51.2mm of rain on average during the same period. The report came after United Nations food ... Read More »

Taking the U.S. and Iran Off Collision Course

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. ICG It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war. For the past year, relations between the U.S. and Iran have brought to mind a slow-motion train wreck. Of late, the pace has dangerously accelerated, and tensions could soon lead to a… ... Read More »

Home Office misses deadline to access EU poverty relief funds

Exclusive: series of errors by department has put further £2.9m in aid funding at risk Daniel Boffey The Guardian A catalogue of errors by the Home Office has led to a loss of access to £600,000 of EU funds earmarked for the most deprived people in Britain and has put a further £2.9m at risk, it can be revealed. The government had tried to claim the money for Theresa May’s flagship policy of helping the victims of modern slavery, but Sajid Javid’s ... Read More »

How 9/11 and China’s plan for blanket surveillance created a wave that CCTV camera makers Hikvision and Dahua rode to huge success

Hangzhou’s Binjiang district is home to three of China’s biggest surveillance camera makers Hikvision, Dahua and Uniview benefited from rise in demand for surveillance after 9/11 terror attacks China is famous for its one-industry towns. Gurao in southern Guangdong province is known for making bras. Qiaotou in Zhejiang province produces most of the world’s buttons. Sarah Dai South China Morning Post The city of Tianjin to the north is a major manufacturer of bicycles. Then there is Hangzhou’s Binjiang district, ... Read More »

Alabama passes bill banning abortion

Alabama has become the latest US state to move to restrict abortions by passing a bill to outlaw the procedure in almost all cases. BBC Supporters say they expect the law to be blocked in court but hope that the appeals process will bring it before the Supreme Court. They want the court, which now has a conservative majority, to overturn the 1973 ruling legalising abortion. Sixteen other states are seeking to impose new restrictions on abortion. Earlier this year ... Read More »