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Blasphemy law is repealed in Ireland, enforced in Pakistan – and a problem in many Christian and Muslim countries

The citizens of Ireland voted recently, in a nationwide referendum, to remove a clause from their constitution that had made blasphemy a criminal offense. Steve Pinkerton The Conversation Ireland’s now-defunct Defamation Act of 2009 prohibited the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter.” Just last year, in fact, Irish police opened a brief investigation into whether comedian Stephen Fry had broken the law when he described God as “capricious, mean-minded, stupid” and “an utter maniac” during a televised interview. The case was closed, however, as the… ... Read More »

“Maria by Callas”… New Documentary On The Legendary Opera Singer Told Her Own Words

Time magazine called her “a woman for whom the term prima donna could have been invented” and the “undisputed queen of the world’s opera”. WYSK This weekend, the life story of Maria Callas, one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century, is coming to the big screen. Maria by Callas is the first film to present the story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer, completely in her own words. Her remarkable journey through stardom is ... Read More »

South Sudan faces collapse if peace pact fails again. This can be averted

South Sudan is arguably the most fragile state in the world. Lacking an institutional legacy at its creation in 2011, political, security, economic, and social indicators have all deteriorated amid civil conflict. Luka Kuol The Conversation As state legitimacy has eroded, the number of armed factions and tribal militias has increased rapidly, now exceeding 40 such groups. One consequence of the prolonged conflict is that South Sudan – a nation of over 13 million people – is now one of the main sources of ... Read More »

Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Has a First-World Problem

The world’s biggest SWF wants to cut back on the diversification of its fixed-income portfolio. It deserves a hearing, whatever the experts say. Marcus Ashworth Bloomberg It’s the very definition of a first-world problem, but Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is wrestling with whether to make its investment portfolio less diverse. It’s a subject that cuts to the heart of the “active manager versus passive index” debate. As part of a long-running review, which will lift the fund’s equity ... Read More »

‘I don’t have dreams’: my pen pal on Manus Island

I sent a letter to a refugee and five years later he found me on Facebook Five years ago I wrote someone I didn’t know a letter. It was a bit awkward. Sophie Trevvit, with Mustafa Golem The Guardian I didn’t know what to say. I described my family. I said I was studying law at university. I wrote that I thought what our government was doing to refugees was wrong. I included my address so the someone I was ... Read More »

Eerie recording reveals moment the guns fell silent at the end of WWI

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent. It brought an end to four years of war which crippled Europe, leaving 17 million dead including 888,246 British or Colonial servicemen. Jen Mills Metro As we approach the centenary of the Armistice on November 11, the Imperial War Museum has released a recording of the moment the war ended, patched together using recordings from their collections. The artillery activity it illustrates was recorded ... Read More »

The Possibility of US Withdrawal from the INF Treaty

It is no secret that the modern globalised world is increasingly dependent on the quality of states implementing international agreements that regulate relations between countries. ISF This is of particular importance in fields such as human rights, the environment, and, of course, disarmament and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) prohibition. On October 20 Donald Trump stated that the US decided to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to start developing weapons prohibited under the treaty. This ... Read More »

Pakistan has cost effective solutions to India’s ballistic missile defence system: Report

Pakistan has “cost effective solutions” to India’s latest ballistic missile defence system and would also find a counter to its nuclear capable submarine, a media report said on Wednesday quoting a… Pakistan Defence Addressing a conference on ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’ hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA) Lt Gen (retd… “The history of our strategic force development clearly indicates that Pakistan has never allowed this (strategic) balance to ... Read More »

Women candidates break records in the 2018 US midterm elections

The 2018 midterms broke the records on female candidates in US elections More than 20 women were on the Senate ballot, while more than ten times that number stood for the House of Representatives. Jennifer Mathers The Conversation If we also consider state elections for executive roles such as governor as well as state legislatures, the number of female candidates in 2018 rises by another 3,500. The results mean that several states (including Arizonaand Tennessee) will now send their first ever women to the Senate, and more than ... Read More »

Madagascar elections: Rivals vie for presidency

People in Madagascar are voting in a presidential election that sees the incumbent president battling against two of his predecessors. BBC There are 36 candidates in all to lead the Indian Ocean island, which in recent years has been hit by periods of political instability. In May, the army threatened to take over amid huge street protests. The main candidates promised to boost the economy in a country where 80% of the population live in poverty. The front-runners have criss-crossed ... Read More »

Canada-EU Trade Deal A ‘Disappointment’ As Deficit With Europe Soars 46%

Dear Canada, free trade deals don’t make sense if you don’t sell things to your trade partners. Daniel Tencer HuffPost The conventional wisdom is that free trade deals are, on the whole, a net benefit to an economy. But that isn’t true if you don’t actually take advantage of the opportunities created by those deals. Canada has grabbed few opportunities from its one-year-old Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. Twelve months in, it looks like European ... Read More »

Snowden issues surveillance warning to Israelis

U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden urged Israelis to be on guard against heavy-handed government and private surveillance in a speech by video link on Nov. 6 and defended his 2013 massive… TEL AVIV – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Snowden highlighted Israel‘s high-tech capabilities, but warned that accepting too much government surveillance and too easily acceding to the argument that it is needed for security reasons… “If we can allow ourselves to be terrorized by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience ... Read More »

Rebuke but not rejection gives Trump hope for a second term

New York: The US midterm elections should deliver a blaring wake-up call to both Donald Trump and to the Democratic Party. Matthew Knott Brisbane Times The question is whether either Trump or his political opponents possess the self-reflection required to turn the results into a springboard to victory at the 2020 presidential election. Firstly, the President. While Trump will try to focus on the Republicans’ strong performance in the Senate, there is no escaping the fact that voters have delivered a ... Read More »

Frydenberg rejects foreign bid for ‘critical’ pipeline network

The Morrison government risks another feud with China over foreign investment after rejecting a $13 billion bid for Australia’s dominant gas pipeline network ahead of a crucial meeting in Beijing that… David Crowe & Cole Latimer, with Kylar Loussikian The Sydney Morning Herald The decision halts a divisive plan from Hong Kong company CK Group to buy APA Group and its massive energy network, giving the overseas bidder two weeks to appeal the ruling amid warnings of… Treasurer Josh Frydenberg issued ... Read More »