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Burma's reform process more than just window dressing

For long-term Burma watchers, it has been easy to regard that country’s recent political changes as window dressing by an authoritarian regime hoping to attract investment without actually giving up power. There is no doubt, too, that the 2010 elections remained a very long way from being free and fair.

But the bi-elections in April this year did appear to offer a glimpse of a genuine reform process, with opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates winning 43 of the 44 seats contested. Burma’s President Thein Sein has since been feted around the world as a reformer, as has NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the symbol of hoped-for political change.

Since April, there have been numerous changes in Burma’s political and military leadership. To date, these changes have almost all seen the promotion of reformist officers or former officers and the side-lining of the government’s anti-reform faction.

Peace in Mindanao

The peace agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed on Sunday has, it seems, brought to an end four decades of a bloody and destructive war in the southern Philippines that has cost an estimated 150,000 lives. Assuming the peace agreement holds, it will create an autonomous Islamic homeland for the Philippines’ ‘Bangsamoro’ people and bring much needed stability to an historically deeply troubled region. The peace agreement recognises the long-standing military stalemate between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF. A compromise arrangement has long been recognised by the MILF and at least some in the government as the only practical means to ending the conflict.

Online opportunities: digital innovation or death through regulation?

The steady measured progress of innovation in higher education has been replaced with an explosion of new ideas. The change is both exhilarating and frightening. Each day there are new innovations, as more and more experts explain where these changes might take us.

New ideas are flourishing around Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, badging, portfolios, assessment, and other ways of extracting value and efficiency from the digital learning experience. Just six months ago most of us had never heard of MOOCs, but if you search for this very odd acronym now you get a flood of results.

Much of the digital innovation so far has come from the United States, but what about Australia? There are some urgent questions around whether we, too, are able to nurture innovation.


Dr John Basarin, Research Fellow, Deakin University & Project Manager, Gallipoli-2015

An insider’s guide: Studying with Coursera

The disruptive influence of massive online open courses, or ‘MOOCs’, has been well documented on The Conversation and elsewhere. The arrival of major players, edX, Udacity and Coursera create opportunities and challenges for Australian educational institutions.

Practical Lessons, Fair Consequences

The Victorian Department of Justice recently released a discussion paper calling for community input into the design and implementation of diversion programs for young people engaged in the criminal justice system.

Unlike many jurisdictions in Australia, Victoria has not adopted a legislative, court-based diversion scheme for addressing crime committed by children and young people. The state has also seen limited investment in diversionary programs and an overreliance on discretionary police cautions. For young people in rural and regional areas, access to diversion programs and support services is especially limited.

New nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors

There is a lot we know about the best food and lifestyle choices to help someone lower the risk of developing cancer. But what about once a person has cancer? New nutrition and physical activity guidelines give the best advice for what cancer survivors should aim for.

Thanks to earlier detection and much better treatment options, cancer today is certainly not a death sentence. Well over half of people diagnosed will be alive after 5 years.

The insipid, incremental new world of advertising

As advertising opportunities for businesses become more fragmented, enhanced and accelerated by the Internet, businesses are looking for more creative ways to get their brands into the minds of their target markets.

With this in mind, on Wednesday, Spotify – the Swedish music streaming service that gives subscribers who pay with cash, or by listening to ads, access to a huge amount of music from major and independent record labels – unveiled a global partnership with Coca-Cola. The soft drink behemoth will curate content and music for Spotify members, and according to Coke, “takes advantage of the existing Spotify relationship with Facebook and the Coca-Cola Facebook audience of over 40 million fans to create a social experience that will reach millions of interconnected consumers around the world.”

Reddit and Political Figures Online


‘Hey everybody - this is barack’, wrote US President Barack Obama on the social networking space Reddit. ‘Just finished a great rally in Charlottesville, and am looking forward to your questions’.

The Protests over the Anti-Islam 'Video': Race-Relations and International Politics in a Globalised World

Much has already been said and written about the wave of protests about the anti-Islam trashy trailer ‘The Innocence of Muslims’. So as expected, many so-called Muslim ‘leaders’ have sprung up to explain, contextualise, restrain and advise. Some are even offering apologies to the wider society about the actions of the radical few who as always succeed in making Islam itself the subject of scrutiny here and not the amateurish, poorly produced ‘video’ that most of them have not even seen. And an equal number of so-called experts and commentators have also offered, to everyone and anyone who cares to receive, their well-informed nuanced and sophisticated analyses. After all, this is ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ we are talking about, and no matter how simple or complex the issue is the same banal analysis can always somehow do the trick.


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