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Oppressing compassion in Europe and Australia

27 September 2015 | Bronwyn Lay

Woman reaches out to refugees past legs of authorities. Artwork by Chris JohnstonWhen refugees walked into Europe, away from distant distress sites, their presence made the global issue visceral for Europeans. Australia doesn't have asylum seekers walking en masse through ordinary streets. Our border is one of established hatred. 'Stop the boats' policy denies ordinary Australians their compassionate impulse, and creates a history that our children will face judgement upon. It denies humanity's collective memory after World War II.

Ecuador's example for Australia's neglected arts

1 Comment
24 September 2015 | Catherine Marshall

La Capillla del HombreOn a terrace just below the house is the beloved, late Ecuadorian artist Guayasamin's masterpiece, La Capillla del Hombre. A collection of his imposing artworks fills the space, works that ask the unanswerable question: why is man equally capable of such cruelty, and such compassion? It is a question that all good art should pose — a point that Australia's newly appointed Minister for the Arts would do well to remember.

Bringing 'boogeyman' Iran in from the cold

21 September 2015 | William Gourlay

Hands shaking above US and Iran flagsCanny politicians know it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. This must be clear to Obama in the wake of the nuclear deal reached with Iran. As he heralded the accord as a harbinger of a 'more hopeful world', Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a 'stunning historical mistake'. The deal is a result of 18 months of hard diplomatic negotiation, but for the naysayers it means Iran is off the leash.

Be wary of politicians who speak about moral obligation

27 August 2015 | Justin Glyn

One would think after the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya that Australians would have learned to be just a little bit suspicious when the US Government suggests another Middle East war, or when a politician urges — as Bob Carr and Tony Blair have — that we have a 'moral obligation' to join the legally dubious US bombing mission in Syria.

The Lord's Resistance Army is alive and well

1 Comment
25 August 2015 | Dorothy Horsfield

LRA soldierFor almost twenty years, across the settlements and subsistence farms of Central Africa the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has preyed upon civilian populations with exceptional cruelty, emerging from the bush in small units to commit unspeakable atrocities. These days there is a common assumption that the LRA has been decimated and scattered and that its leader Joseph Kony is in hiding and probably ineffectual. But visiting activist Sister Angelique Namaika insists this optimistic assessment is misguided. 

Thai turmoil continues

24 August 2015 | Michael Kelly

A government officer pays respect to the portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of ThailandThailand's chronic political instability intensified with the bomb that exploded last week in the middle of a major Bangkok tourist district. With 20 dead and still counting, the event is a decisive rebuttal of the military dictatorship's promise to restore 'happiness' to Thailand. Because Thailand's public life revolves around the frail and ageing king and the military, a brighter future awaits the outcome of royal succession.

UK Labour's hysterical power struggle

17 August 2015 | Daniel Read

Jeremy CorbynThe ongoing drama over leadership of the UK Labour Party is raising the possibility of further fractures in the politics of austerity, not just in Britain, but across Europe. The entire political edifice of British politics has shifted so far to the right that even a somewhat inoffensive endorsement of state ownership, anti-austerity politics and trade union support, alongside scrapping the UK's nuclear deterrent and questioning our continued membership in NATO, can appear dangerously radical.

The ins and outs of a regional solution for refugees

05 August 2015 | Samuel Tyrer

Asia PacificThe Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers of 2012 said 'a regional cooperation and protection framework' should shape policymaking. Support for a regional solution also exists among academics and NGOs such as the Refugee Council of Australia. So what would such a framework look like? And when the time comes, will Australia be prepared to lead the way by increasing resettlement numbers?

Post-sanctions Iran will be force for stability

23 July 2015 | Shahram Akbarzadeh

Iran flag and nuclear warning symbolIran’s nuclear deal with the UN represents a major breakthrough that could lead to more peace and stability in the region, despite what the critics say. Its policy towards Islamic State is actually much closer to that of the US and the UK than any other country in the region. Convergence of interest against this common enemy could open other doors of dialogue with the West and start a relationship that is no longer hostage to the nuclear issue.

The depths of common cause between Australia and Nauru

13 July 2015 | Justin Glyn

Nauru aerial imageIn an impressive demonstration of how the revocation of citizenship can be made to work to defend the national reputation and lifestyle of a country against those who would wish it harm, five of the country's seven opposition MPs (in a 19 member Parliament) have had their passports cancelled for 'damaging the reputation and development of the country'. In Australia, at least for the moment, damaging of Government property will still be required for the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection to revoke citizenship under the new anti-terror provisions in s.35A of the Citizenship Act.

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