Australian politics, society & culture

The Shortlist Daily

The best reads from around the world

6th of July 2015

Tsipras triumphs as Greece votes against austerity “As the euro dropped in Asian trading and Tsipras’s supporters filled Athens’s central Syntagma Square waving Greek flags, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for an emergency leaders’ summit on Tuesday. The verdict turns the tables on Merkel and Greece’s other creditors, who must now decide if a financial rescue of the region’s most indebted country is still possible. It significantly raises the chances of a Greek exit from the single currency, as the country’s banks run out of cash and its economy staggers toward all-out collapse.” (Also: How Europe’s leaders betrayed European ideals in the Greek crisis and 12 people who ruined Greece


3rd of July 2015

A scientific ethical divide between China and west “Scientists around the world were shocked in April when a team led by Huang Junjiu, 34, at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, published the results of an experiment in editing the genes of human embryos. The technology, called Crispr-Cas9, may one day be used to eradicate inheritable illnesses. But in theory, it also could be used to change such traits as eye color or intelligence, and to ensure that the changes are passed on to future generations. Dr. Huang and his colleagues tried to modify a gene that causes a blood disorder called beta-thalassemia. The experiment failed in 85 embryos. Even so, to many in global science, it was a line that should not have been crossed. Scientists in the West generally abjure this sort of research on the grounds that it amounts to genetic engineering of humans. In any event, the technology is still in the earliest stages of development. ‘The consensus among the scientific community is, ‘not for now,’’ said Huso Yi, the director of research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Center for Bioethics. Yet Chinese scientists seem in no mood to wait. ‘I don’t think China wants to take a moratorium,’ Mr. Yi said. ‘People are saying they can’t stop the train of mainland Chinese genetics because it’s going too fast.’”

The New York Times

2nd of July 2015

Multiparty same-sex marriage bill to be introduced in August “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has slapped down a cross-party attempt to legalise same-sex marriage, but faces six weeks of potentially divisive debate over the issue, with conservative MPs mobilising to block any move to legislate the landmark social reform. The debate over same-sex marriage will come to a head when Parliament resumes in August, with a marriage equality bill moved by Liberal MP Warren Entsch and seconded by Labor MP Terri Butler and backed by a multi-party grouping to be introduced.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

1st of July 2015

Greece defaults on IMF payment despite last-minute overtures to creditors “The IMF confirmed that Greece had not made its scheduled 1.6 billion euro loan repayment to the fund. As a result, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will report to the global lender's board that Greece is "in arrears," the official euphemism for default. Fears of a Greek default have unnerved financial markets on concerns that it would ultimately lead to the country's exit from the euro common currency. The fate of Greece's membership in the 19-nation currency bloc still hangs in the balance ahead of a referendum on Sunday when Greek citizens will vote on whether to accept the austerity terms of continued international aid.”


30th of June 2015

TPP – What we don’t know may hurt us “If you don’t yet know what TPP stands for, listen up. Our government could sign it within weeks. Only then will we really know what's in it. As with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Japan-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the content of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will remain secret right up until the day it is signed. Afterwards, our parliament will be able to look at it, but not to change it. Alice is inside the looking glass. A Senate committee reported on the processes surrounding the TPP on Thursday. It said the parliament would be presented with an all-or-nothing choice. It could examine the TPP (after it had been signed) and either vote for or against it, but not change a word … Leaks published by Wikileaks suggest the big changes for Australia would relate not to trade, but to intellectual property and so-called investor-state dispute settlement.”

Sydney Morning Herald

29th of June 2015

Greece crisis deepens as banks close for a week after weekend that shook euro “On Monday morning Greeks will find their savings blocked and their banks closed for a week following a fateful weekend that has shaken Europe’s single currency. The Greek government decided on Sunday night it had no option but to close the nation’s banks the following day after the European Central Bank (ECB) raised the stakes by freezing the liquidity lifeline that has kept them afloat during a six-month run on deposits. The Athens Stock Exchange will not reopen on Monday either. The dramatic move, after 48 hours of sensational developments in Greece’s long-running battles with creditors, was sparked by the country’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras’s Friday night call for a referendum on its creditors’ demands. That prompted finance ministers of the eurozone to effectively put an end to his country’s five-year bailout by the International Monetary Fund, the ECB and the European commission.” (Also: How much Greece owes to international creditors)

The Guardian

26th of June 2015

Why join Islamic State? “What makes Faraj’s account of his life and views so interesting is that he isn’t a defector or a propagandist. He is somebody with a deep hatred of the Assad regime who joined the organisation that was most able to fight against it. He told the story of his former leader or emir, an Iraqi Kurd with the nom de guerre Abu Abbas al-Kurdistani, who had recently been killed in battle. Faraj asked him why he had joined Islamic State and Abu Abbas replied that he had been imprisoned by the Kurdistan Regional Government for four years without a fair trial. ‘Corruption and torture,’ Faraj said, ‘had pushed him to find any organisation that gives him the opportunity for taking revenge. Our emir’s pain was similar to ours. We all fight as a reaction to the tyranny and injustice we had known before. Islamic State is the best option for oppressed people in the Middle East.’”

The London Review of Books

25th of June 2015

Dutch court orders government to do more to fight climate change “A court in the Netherlands today ordered the Dutch government to dramatically intensify its fight against climate change. The district court in The Hague ruled that by 2020, the Netherlands must cut CO2 emissions by 25% from 1990 levels. Current government policies would lead to a reduction by just 17%. The court ruled in a civil case against the government brought by an environmental group called Urgenda. (The name is a contraction of ‘urgent’ and ‘agenda’.) The case framed global warming as a human rights violation that the Dutch government must do more to prevent.”


24th of June 2015

Tony Abbott reveals details of citizenship legislation “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has finally unveiled details of a proposal that would see terrorists both in Australia and overseas stripped of their Australian citizenship in a move designed to ‘stop terrorists from being loose on our streets’. The changes, which will be made by expanding the operation of section 35 of the Australian Citizenship Act, will only apply to dual nationals. And the new laws could be applied to up to half of the Australian citizens who are dual nationals currently believed to be fighting overseas at the moment with terrorist groups, Mr Abbott said.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

23rd of June 2015

Greece offers new proposals to avert default “Greece took a step back from the abyss on Monday with the presentation of new budget proposals that euro zone leaders welcomed as a basis for a possible agreement in the coming days to unlock frozen aid and avert a looming default. European Council President Donald Tusk, who chaired an emergency summit of leaders of the 19-nation currency bloc, called the Greek proposals ‘a positive step forward’. He said the aim was to have the Eurogroup finance ministers approve a cash-for-reform package on Wednesday evening and put it to euro zone leaders for final endorsement on Thursday morning.”