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31 January 2017 |
The shape Trump's presidency is beginning to be discernible. The likely deepening of inequality, the disregard for universal human rights and for the international and national responsibilities that flow from them, the contempt for the environment and for evidence based research, and the debasement of political speech promise a more divided society in a more divided world. In such a noisy and staccato atmosphere the beginnings of an appropriate response lie in not responding to every tweet.
27 January 2017 |
Writing in the New York Times, renowned Mexican historian Enrique Krauze splendidly summed up the US conduct toward his country. 'For Mexico, the United States has been a difficult neighbour, sometimes violent, almost always arrogant, almost never respectful, rarely cooperative,' Krauze wrote. Donald Trump is the embodiment of all these. Trump has taken the US disrespect towards its Spanish-speaking neighbour to a level even Mexicans - a resigned bunch - won't put up with any longer.
24 January 2017 |
No-one doubted Trump's ascendancy would deeply fracture the world as we know it. But few of us could have anticipated the swiftness with which his orders would impact some of the world's most disadvantaged citizens: vulnerable, impoverished women. With just one signature, the newly-installed president snatched from these women access to services that are essential to their physical and mental wellbeing and their economic prospects - and, in so doing, endangering countless lives.
23 January 2017 |
I can understand the Trump phenomenon. Hard-working Americans and many Australians are blaming various minorities as responsible for their decline. They are being blinded to the real culprits: our own governments and their wealthy backers. Juvenal's 'bread and circuses', designed to keep the people docile and distracted in Ancient Rome, have been updated to Maccas and manufactured news. And hatred. Are we so easily manipulated? Is the American model the future Australia wants for itself?
23 January 2017 |
One indigenous language vanishes every two weeks, and Quechua, once the tongue of Peru's mighty Inca Empire, was one of those heading to extinction. That is, until last December, when the first ever Quechua language television news service went to air on the platforms of TV Peru and National Radio, the public broadcaster. According to one presenter it is a 'space that breaks all the paradigms of discrimination and inequality toward those who are speakers of indigenous languages'.
18 January 2017 |
Manning became the victim of an institutional drive to target whistleblowers, with the centrepiece of the prosecution focusing on computer crimes and the Espionage Act. Despite the eventual commutation of her 35 year sentence, the severity of that sentence demonstrated the gulf between the cosy, public relations air of an administration keen to project certain achievements and its stomping on those keen to disclose inappropriate and illegal conduct in the security and intelligence services.
17 January 2017 |
In an otherwise sombre start to the year Barack Obama's final speech has been a shining light. He celebrated what he saw as the successes of his administration without sneering at his political opponents. He spoke graciously and decently, and evoked hope for the future. Obama is right in insisting that empathy is the necessary starting point for reconstructing a broken economic framework. It enables a global perspective from which the good of individuals and groups is set within the flourishing of the whole community, and especially the most disadvantaged.
16 January 2017 |
Without any media fanfare, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop published a statement on 9 January 2017 announcing that Australia and Timor Leste had agreed to terminate the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea. This news is more welcome to the Timorese government than to the Australian government. But the uncertainty created by this Timorese win might in time impact more adversely on Timor than on Australia. Only time will tell.
18 December 2016 |
A few years ago I woke up on Christmas morning to see a small, neatly wrapped gift under the tree. The size and shape were familiar and I was excited to see my name on the gift tag. I'd wanted a new phone all year ... one with one of those touch screens everyone else seemed to have. A few months later I could no longer feel pride for my phone, instead just guilt. I'd sat down and watched a documentary about how phones just like mine were manufactured.
15 December 2016 |
Assad's victory epitomises, in a sense, the reactionary tide prevailing just about everywhere in this, the Year of the Donald. The hopes raised during the Arab Spring have, it seems, been crushed, with the Syrian regime consolidating its grip over a nation it has oppressed for so long. Yet Aleppo also illustrates how little the Right's victories have actually settled. The Right's biggest asset is often the Left, with progressives seemingly determined to validate all the smears levelled against them.
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