Australia's draw-down of its remaining military force in East Timor, and the conclusion of the United Nations mission on December 31, has signalled that this sometimes troubled tiny country is now responsible for its own future. The stark realisation that the security blanket provided by the international community is being taken away has left some in East Timor feeling vulnerable. Some observers, too, have suggested that the withdrawal is still too soon and that East Timor still has the potential to slide back into internal conflict. The country’s leaders, however, have been making clear they are not only ready to take full responsibility for their own affairs but are demanding to do so. In this, Australia's continuing military presence is regarded by some East Timorese as neo-colonial, and the UN as of marginal competence or value.
The recently concluded East Asia Forum (EAF) has highlighted the contentious role of a growing China in regional affairs. For an event that was intended primarily to lay the foundation for a huge Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the EAF has been at least as notable for a profound, perhaps fatal, rift in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The proposed East Asia Free Trade Area (FTA), including around a third of the world’s global economy, is intended to capitalise on this region’s current and projected economic strength. While there are many thorny details to be resolved, not least trade advantages flowing from China’s artificially low currency, there is a general sense that the FTA process will continue to be developed.
Last month, a Victorian tribunal found that the state department of education did not discriminate against children opting out of Special Religious Instruction (SRI) classes.
The plaintiffs – parents who chose to opt their children out of the classes – argued the students were treated differently, on religious grounds, and were not being offered proper instruction during SRI time.
Social media technologies made the US presidential election one of the most instantaneously shared and documented events in history with tweets, jokes and photos surging in real time through internet pathways around the world.
Women's bodies have long been a site for politics, but over the past few months political games and posturing have put issues like misogyny, sexism, rape and gender in the headlines. Whether it’s American Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock's comments about rape and pregnancy or Julia Gilliard’s address to Tony Abbott, from Australia to America politicians are buying into gendered debates.
The escalating battle between Israel and Hamas has raised questions as well as tensions.
With the Middle East in a state of flux, why did Israel strike at Hamas military leader? More importantly, why did Hamas respond in a way sure to invite an Israeli attack that it could not possibly fend off?
While Hamas’ military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, had long been on Israel’s hit list and had, consequently, kept out of sight, his killing may be a calculated attempt to derail the Oslo peace accords, linked with trying to stymy the Palestinian Authority’s bid for UN recognition, due on the 29th of this month.
Israel’s leaders would have been all too aware that al-Jabari’s death would escalate regional tensions.
The number of Australians who were homeless on census night increased by 17% to 105,237 in the five years to August 2011. When adjusted for population growth, the increase the increase is still worryingly high, at around 8%. It’s clear we need a stronger commitment to address this significant social issue.
Medical-legal partnerships have broken down the barriers to accessible legal services for people experiencing health issues in the United States. Such programs demonstrate the health benefits of effective legal advocacy on behalf of patients and Australia could learn from this model to improve access to justice and deliver better health outcomes.
My research and thinking, and even my identity with regard to social networking has evolved, but not in a way I have anticipated. Over the past three years, I have offered a number of conference addresses and keynote presentations focussed on the use of social media and networking in education. I have co-authored chapters in books about the challenges, potentials and pitfalls, and often humorously reflected upon myself as s stalker-mum or stalker-teacher.
'The solution to women’s issues can only be achieved in a free and democratic society in which human energy is liberated, the energy of both women and men together. Our civilization is called human civilization and is not attributed only to men or women.'
(Yemeni political activist and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, Tawakkol Karman, 2011)