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‘A dangerous precedent’: Julian Assange’s lawyer hits out at his arrest

The founder of WikiLeaks, Australian Julian Assange, has been arrested after he was kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. AFP – SBS WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s seven-year hideout in Ecuador’s London embassy ended on Thursday when British police dragged him out and arrested him on an extradition request from the United States to face hacking charges. Footage shot by the Russian video news agency Ruptly showed Mr Assange – his worn face framed by a bushy white beard ... Read More »

The outlook for the global economy goes from bright to precarious

The latest IMF report should provide sobering reading for both major parties ahead of the federal election Greg Jericho The Guardian The IMF has downgraded forecasts for economic growth across the world in its latest world economic outlook released this week. The report should provide sobering reading for both major parties ahead of the federal election as a substantial slowdown in the world economy could severely affect revenue forecasts and the ability to deliver spending commitments and tax cuts while also balancing ... Read More »

South Korea abortion ban ‘unconstitutional’

South Korea’s ban on abortion has been ruled unconstitutional in a historic court decision. BBC The country’s constitutional court ordered that the law must be revised by the end of 2020. Under the 1953 ban, women who procured abortions could be fined and imprisoned, except in cases of rape or risk to their health. South Korea is one of the few developed countries to criminalise abortion. The abortion law was reviewed after a challenge from a female doctor who said ... Read More »

Dog whistles, regional visas and wage theft – immigration policy is again an election issue

Immigration policy will be a major issue in the 2019 federal election. We know this because immigration has featured significantly at every Australian election since the 2001 “children overboard” election. Jock Collins The Conversation David Marr and Marian Wilkinson argued in their 2003 book, Dark Victory, that willingness to play the race card in relation to boat people was a decisive factor in John Howard’s election victory. For Tony Abbott, “Stop the boats” was a major campaign theme when the ... Read More »

Balakot air strike: Pakistan shows off disputed site on eve of India election

The authorities in Pakistan have allowed foreign media and defence attachés to visit the site of a disputed Indian air strike in February. BBC They were given access to an Islamic school in Balakot, where Indian media say militants were killed in retaliation for an attack in Kashmir. The large building appeared to be fully intact and the Pakistani army denied it had been used as a terror camp. The visit to the school was held on the eve of ... Read More »

Scientists reveal first image ever made of a black hole

Assembling data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created the picture showing the violent neighborhood around a supermassive black hole, the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and… WASHINGTON- The Associated Press Hurriyet It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring. “We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a blackhole. Here it is,” said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard. Jessica Dempsey, a co-discoverer and… Scientists reveal first… Read More »

Yemen Cannot Afford to Wait

The scars in the country run deep – and the U.S. shares responsibility. ICG For an American who had a hand in shaping U.S. Mideast policy during the Barack Obama years, coming to Yemen has the unpleasant feel of visiting the scene of a tragedy one helped co-write. It is a scene whose most heartrending aspects are not easily accessible to a visitor. It is still possible to travel north, to the war-battered capital, Sanaa, now controlled by the Houthi ... Read More »

Israel faces old reality of Benjamin Netanyahu victory anew

Israel’s general election has put Prime Minister Netanyahu on track for a record fifth term in office, but not everybody is celebrating. Dana Regev (Haifa) Deutsche Welle The vote reflects a deep societal divide. Dana Regev reports from Haifa. The day after Israel’s general election, it’s hard to say the country has woken up to the dawn of a new day. In the northern port city of Haifa — known for its mixed Arab-Jewish population and left-leaning tendencies — the ... Read More »

Donald Trump fumes as judge blocks policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico

US President Donald Trump has lashed out over a judge blocking his administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico while they apply to legally stay in the United States, saying the ruling is “unfair to the US”. ABC Under the policy, which was launched in January, migrants are forced to return back over the border while they wait for an immigration court to hear their cases. Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco this week granted a request on behalf ... Read More »

The air disaster that haunts Polish politics

Political potency of a national tragedy is wearing out. Annabelle Chapman Politico WARSAW — Nine years ago, a plane crash that killed Poland’s president and 95 others created one of the most potent myths in the country’s history. A significant minority of Poles did not believe that it was a tragic accident, as detailed in an official report. Instead, they saw the crash at a military airfield near the Russian city of Smolensk as a plot involving Polish and Russian ... Read More »

Turkey’s Erdoğan sticks with Putin, defies U.S.

Another month, another meeting between Erdoğan and Putin. Dimitar Bechev Ahval We have grown accustomed to this double act. From Syria, to Europe’s energy geopolitics, to what pundits label “the rise of illiberalism”, the two strongmen roll on and on, to the consternation of European Union and U.S. policymakers. Monday’s summit in Moscow gave Erdoğan an opportunity to strike a defiant pose vis-à-vis America. He declared, for the umpteenth time, that Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system was ... Read More »

Averting a Full-blown War in Libya

Fighting between forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and allies of the UN-backed government in Tripoli threatens a bloodbath and a regional proxy war. ICG Libya’s international partners should urgently take steps to avoid a major battle and get both sides back to the negotiating table under a new format. A dangerous military confrontation is underway in Libya between east-based forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and armed groups allied to the UN-backed government in Tripoli. So far, international ... Read More »

Israel election: Netanyahu and Gantz on course for dead heat

Israel’s general election is on course for a dead heat with nearly all votes counted, local media report. BBC Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist Blue and White alliance are projected to win 35 seats each with most votes counted. The outcome puts Mr Netanyahu in a strong position to form a right-wing coalition government. No party has ever won a majority in Israel’s parliament and the country has always had coalition governments. Exit polls had predicted ... Read More »

Government advertising may be legal, but it’s corrupting our electoral process

The Coalition government’s use of taxpayer money for political advertising – as much as A$136 million since January, according to Labor figures – is far from an aberration in Australia. Joo-Cheong Tham The Conversation It is part of a sordid history in which public resources have routinely been abused for electoral advantage. For example, the Coalition governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull spent at least A$84.5 million on four major advertising campaigns to promote their policies and initiatives with ... Read More »