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21 May 2017 |
The European Union, according to Assange, has been captivated by an unhealthy interest in indefinite detention: 'There is no time limit that someone can be detained without charge. That is not how we expect a civilised state to behave.' Prematurely, tabloid press and outlets were wondering if the latest developments meant the end of the drama. A statement from the Metropolitan Police dispelled any doubts about Assange's plight, should he wish to leave his narrow digs in Knightsbridge.
21 May 2017 |
Last Tuesday night in Mexico City I headed to a bar with some press colleagues. It was late and the bar was lit with candles for mood lighting. As we sat down to order drinks my friend Joan took the candle in front of her and said, 'I'll hold onto this for the next journalist to be murdered.' We had been at a vigil to mourn the murder of journalist Javier Valdez and to protest the ever-escalating number of journalist murders in the country in a legal and political climate of almost total impunity.
17 May 2017 |
Australia should think carefully about adopting a ban that singles out Muslim majority countries under the guise of keeping its citizens safe. While it might make sense to ban potential bomb-carrying devices on flights from those countries where terrorist groups tend to be based, in reality it negatively profiles these countries and, more oppressively, the people who come from them. This is precisely the kind of dog whistle politics the likes of Trump and Hanson have engaged in.
15 May 2017 |
The building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile by a major Italian construction company remains a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt. Egypt sees the Nile as its sole source for the survival of its population and, historically, has seen itself as its sole natural guardian. Ethiopia argued in response, on the basis of unseen studies, that there would be no reduction of water downstream. Both are mindful of the disastrous war they waged against each other early in the 19th century.
14 May 2017 |
Did he denounce Islam as 'evil' like the American evangelist Franklin Graham? Did he publicly denounce God as 'stupid' like Stephen Fry? On the contrary. Ahok is deeply respectful of Islam and has many Muslim supporters. The affair has done a serious disservice to Indonesia, presenting it as fanatical, racist and sectarian. While these perceptions are unfair, the affair also reveals some aspects of contemporary Indonesia that are obscured by Canberra's often lavish praise of our important neighbour.
11 May 2017 |
Alain is one of around 11,000 people living in this particular camp in the south of Zimbabwe. It seems an unlikely location to talk of the freeze on funding for Australian foreign aid announced in the budget, but it is in places like these, unseen and therefore unknown by the Australian population, that the effects are often felt. Alain is lucky: the camp where he lives has good education. Worldwide however, only 50 per cent of children in forced migrant situations will attend primary school, 22 per cent secondary and a paltry 1 per cent any institution of higher learning.
11 May 2017 |
It began 40 years ago on an autumn day, when 14 mothers gathered in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo, in the city's central square. They were seeking an audience with the military authorities. They wanted to ask the whereabouts of their abducted children. 'Where are our children?' was a question that metamorphosed into a brave act of political resistance and defiance against the brutal 1976-1983 Argentinean military dictatorship. They have been performing this act of defiance ever since.
08 May 2017 |
One of the big science stories in the last month has been the invention of an artificial womb. The device has successfully assisted a number of lamb foetuses to term, and scientists are hopeful it will also assist premature human babies. What a wonderful development, to alleviate the health complications for those tiny babies and reduce the heartache for their parents. But the potential of the invention does not stop there. Like all tools, humans could choose to put it to use in ways that are good or bad.
03 May 2017 |
For all his demonstrable popularity, Reagan was a divisive figure. His Hollywood and TV show provenance were regarded with enduring suspicion by some, and many doubted his capacity to deal with the dangerous complexities of Cold War politics. Some even considered him a rogue. He was well into enjoying his overwhelmingly approved second term when, unnoticed by the President, his administration or anyone outside the city of Eugene, Oregon, I arrived in the United States.
02 May 2017 |
For various reasons, 'free' education in Australia has been qualified by HECS, which actually serves to wedge the liquid incentive of government and educational institutions on the one hand with the need for students to obtain affordable education on the other. Even that balance is now under threat, with a pre-budget announcement suggesting cuts to university funding and increasing costs to student degrees are in the offing. Universities are far from blameless in the present distorted funding model.
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