Australian politics, society & culture

The Shortlist Daily

The best reads from around the world

5th of February 2016

Syrians flee Aleppo to escape Damascus offensive against rebels “Tens of thousands of Syrians were fleeing the province of Aleppo and heading north toward the Turkish border, trying to escape a regime offensive backed by Russian airstrikes after the latest international efforts to end the country’s conflict unraveled. Turkish officials said Thursday they were expecting a new wave of refugees, adding that people were finding it increasingly difficult to move safely to Turkey from the Aleppo area because of the airstrikes. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said 60,000 to 70,000 Syrians were moving from camps for displaced people north of the city of Aleppo toward Turkey.”

The Wall Street Journal

4th of February 2016

“These children are among the most traumatized we have ever seen” “Ninety-five per cent of asylum-seeker children who have lived at Nauru are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, a medical team led by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found, in research that will add to calls for asylum seekers in Australia to be saved from returning to offshore detention. The medical team interviewed children at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre, most of whom had spent several months at Nauru, and found they were amongst the most traumatised children the paediatricians had ever seen.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

3rd of February 2016

High Court finds offshore detention lawful “The High Court has ruled that Australia’s offshore detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful, dashing the hopes of asylum seekers that detention centres would be closed and they would be settled in Australia. The full bench of the High Court on Wednesday ruled that the federal government has the power under the constitution to detain people in other countries, finding that the conduct was within the law. It potentially clears the way for the government to return about 250 asylum seekers presently in Australia, including 37 babies, to Nauru.” (Also: Sri Lankan asylum seeker says she will commit suicide if returned to Nauru; 5-year-old boy allegedly raped on Nauru could be sent back to detention centre)

The Sydney Morning Herald

2nd of February 2016

The babies Australia wants to send back to Nauru “Samuel arrived into the world chubby; a miniature wrestler who, eight months on, has just produced his eighth tooth. Born at the Royal Darwin Hospital, his parents had him baptised as soon as they could and earmarked him for great things. The dream is that their boy will become an Australian doctor or lawyer, but Samuel is unlikely to realise it. He is one of 37 babies the Turnbull government wants to put on a plane, as early as next week, and send to Nauru's offshore processing centre.” (Also: Guards accused of building tensions on Manus Island)

The Age

1st of February 2016

Terry Wogan dies “With his ready self-deprecation and an ability to mock inoffensively, Terry Wogan, who has died aged 77 after suffering from cancer, was for several decades one of the most popular personalities on both radio and television in Britain – in his words, a jobbing broadcaster. When he was in charge of the television game show Blankety Blank for four years from 1979, audiences exceeded 20 million. His weekday breakfast programme on Radio 2 (1972-84 and 1993-2009) reached 8 million listeners. And quite certainly some of the many millions who watched the Eurovision Song Contest, which he covered on radio and then TV from the early 1970s to 2008, did so more for his facetious commentaries than for the music.”

The Guardian

29th of January 2016

Zika virus ‘spreading explosively’ in Americas “The World Health Organization rang a global alarm over the Zika virus on Thursday, saying the disease was “spreading explosively” in the Americas and that as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O., said she was convening an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether to declare a public health emergency. The move was a signal of how seriously the global health agency was treating the outbreak of the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, after widespread criticism that it had allowed the last major global health crisis — Ebola — to fester for months without a coordinated, effective strategy.”

The New York Times

28th of January 2016

World heritage forests burn as global tragedy unfolds in Tasmania “A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char. Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity. Unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, these plants have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die.”

The Guardian

27th of January 2016

Eric Abetz: Coalition MPs will not be bound by plebiscite on marriage equality “The prominent conservative senator Eric Abetz says every Coalition MP will be free to decide how to cast their parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage, contradicting the prime minister and, according to the marriage equality lobby, rendering the promised $160m national plebiscite pointless. Malcolm Turnbull supports marriage equality and originally argued against Tony Abbott’s ‘circuit-breaker’ policy of a plebiscite after the next federal election, but then promised conservative Liberal colleagues and the Nationals he would keep the policy when he sought the Liberal leadership.”

The Guardian

25th of January 2016

Premiers, chief ministers unite to sign declaration calling for Australian head of state “All but one of Australia’s state premiers and chief ministers have signed a declaration calling for an Australian head of state, in a move the Australian Republican Movement says points to “the dawn of a new republican age”. WA’s Colin Barnett was the only state leader not to lend his name to the statement, which declares: “We, the undersigned premiers and chief ministers of Australia, believe that Australians should have an Australian as our head of state.”” (Plus: Stan Grant’s speech on racism and the Australian dream goes viral)

ABC News

22nd of January 2016

Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko “probably murdered on personal orders of Putin” “The former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was probably murdered on the personal orders of Vladimir Putin, the UK public inquiry into his death has found. Litvinenko, who died from radioactive poisoning in a London hospital in November 2006, was killed by two Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, the inquiry report said. There was a ‘strong probability’ they were acting on behalf of the Russian FSB secret service, the report added.”

The Guardian