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31 August 2016 |
As Australia and East Timor met overnight at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Britain-Norway settlement of the 1960s provides an instructive case study of how to resolve the dispute over oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea. Norway had feared its big neighbour would exploit a deep trench near its coastline and push the boundary beyond halfway. Instead, the Norwegian negotiators were stunned when Britain offered the median line as the starting point for negotiations.
29 August 2016 |
In the savage wars of the Balkans during the 1990s, the identification of good sides over bad meant evil had to be singularised, culprits found to galvanise resistance. One such figure was Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. His death in a Hague cell in March 2006 had the effect of suspending arguments about responsibility from any legal scrutiny. Earlier this month, British journalist Neil Clark suggested he had in fact been exonerated for his role in war crimes and crimes against humanity. He's wrong.
24 August 2016 |
Almost all public conversation quickly turns to transgressors. Olympic competitors growled about proven and suspect drug users. Many wanted people found to have used drugs shamed and shunned. This insistence that transgressors should definitively lose their good name and the right to participate is not confined to sport. If inflexibility and exclusion become the rule in dealing with aberrant speech or behaviour we find unacceptable, they will impose heavy burdens on individuals and society.
23 August 2016 |
Maybe standing there we weren't afraid about the fight that was happening across the street, but the fraying at the edges that it represents, the insecurity that the gospel both of Trump and against Trump seems to be creating in our society. It echoes the insecurity we hear in the Brexit vote, and the treatment of both ethnic British citizens and immigrants that followed. Likewise, the resurrection of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party. None of it sounds good and where is it all going?
21 August 2016 |
Australia appears likely to fall well short of its pre-games medal target. This has led to criticism of the government's funding strategy, which has seen money poured into elite sports where Australia has traditionally been most successful or where medals seemed most likely. This approach inevitably leads people to calculate whether Australia has received 'value for money' for its investments. But it doesn't have much to do with what people actually get out of watching or being part of the Olympics.
17 August 2016 |
I fret more than ever for friends and family in the Philippines. If life is so expendable, who can be safe? What if my brother-in-law is mistakenly identified as a drug 'pusher'? What if my dad goes to a cockfight and armed vigilantes do a drive-by? It is disheartening that many Filipinos seem to approve of Duterte's methods. This is the purge many had wanted. They see the current campaign as a necessary, painful transition to better things. They are wrong. Nothing personal, just history.
16 August 2016 |
Horton desired to highlight the need for more stringent application of doping policies but in the process he enabled Chinese nationalists to bolster their inflated national pride, at his and Australia's expense. That he used his concern about drug use as a competitive tactic lessened its effectiveness, and only enabled Chinese nationalists to once more don the mantle of victim. Any chance for reform around issues like drugs in sport got caught in the wake of wounded egos and jingoistic pride.
09 August 2016 |
The recent Chilcot report on British participation in the Iraq War elicited embarrassing responses by British and Australian leaders and apologists of the time. Specious justifications were accompanied by a failure to take responsibility. The defects of the invasion and the moral irresponsibility of those who collaborated in it did not flow solely from its procedural inadequacies. The crudity now attributed to Donald Trump and his obiter dicta on war flourished before him among Washington insiders.
08 August 2016 |
The main legislative catalyst for the GFC was the repeal, in 1999 by Bill Clinton, of the Glass Steagall Act, which had prohibited commercial banks from engaging in the investment business. This allowed the investment banks to indulge in the debauch of financial invention that almost destroyed the world's monetary system. Trump has made the reinstatement of Glass Steagall official policy. Should that happen, it could be the most beneficial development in the global financial system for decades.
07 August 2016 |
The Rio 2016 Olympics has earned a well-deserved label: the jogos da excludad, the games of exclusion. It is a label that shames a ruling class that got its priorities wrong. In the name of the Games, 77,000 residents of Rio's favelas have been evicted and hundreds of these settlements have been bulldozed. Those favelas that avoided the bulldozers have been hidden behind concrete walls that epitomise what theologian Leonardo Boff has called the 'lack of shame' living deep in the Brazilian soul.
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