Thursday 27 Jun 2019 | 04:50 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Osaka G20: finding the right beat for hard conversation

A rap-style music video to promote the Osaka G20 leaders’ summit to be held on 28–29 June contains the lyrics “Let’s talk! Let’s dance! Here is Osaka wonderful city! Let’s conversation! Hard communication! Come on!”. The promotional video was produced by an Osaka-based group made up

The transformative potential of big data

We intuitively know the volume of digital information yet the increasing numbers are still staggering. In 2013, 90% of all the data in the world had been generated in the preceding two years. Forecasts suggest that by 2020, there will be as many bits in the digital universe as there are stars in the

Are we ready for a rare earths trade war?

Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US

The Pacific’s social politics

When the news broke that Peter O’Neill had finally resigned from PNG’s top job last Thursday, it spread instantaneously, lighting up mobile phone screens across the country. It was social media, much more than PNG’s traditional news outlets, that had bored away relentlessly at O’Neill’s

The relativity of the death penalty

Opposition to the death penalty has a long and quite public history in Australia. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smugglers received support from artists, singers, actors, media personalities and sports stars, while a crowd of about a thousand people

Huawei and the decoupling dilemma

In two dramatic policy announcements this month, the Trump administration effectively barred US companies and government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment or services from – or selling any components to –Chinese technology champion, Huawei. President Donald Trump signed a broadly

Huawei reaches into Britain

Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear

Trafficking in old anxieties

Are the boats back? Once again a reliable fear of “uncontrolled” immigration has been invoked in an Australian federal election. This time current Prime Minister Scott Morrison has framed “border control” as a question of “congestion-busting” in major cities – and instead of the usual

Film review: On Her Shoulders

On Her Shoulders, a documentary film by Alexandria Bombach, follows young genocide survivor Nadia Murad in her global cause against sexual violence for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. Women and girls in her community were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual

Atrocities of April

The month of April is littered with reminders of how cruel the world can be and should motivate us to be vigilant about the potential for atrocity crimes in our own time. 24 April marks the start of the Armenian Genocide when, in 1915, hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were

Visa tussles: here come the Irish again

The Irish campaign to gain access to the E-3 visa in the United States has roared back to life.  Currently, Australia is the only country with access to the 10,500 E-3 visa slots. Yet Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who led a delegation of US legislators on a visit to

Remembering Rwanda: small mercy from the horror of Kibeho

What you don’t expect to see when you arrive at Kibeho are the eucalyptus trees. When Belgium ruled Rwanda, gum trees were planted across the colony to provide firewood. A small country in central Africa, Rwanda is mainly populated by two ethnic groups: the minority Tutsi and the majority Hutu.

If 5G takes a little longer in Australia, all the better

The fifth generation of cellular network technology promises much higher performance in terms of data throughput, speed, and lower latency. This will unlock a regime of new digital technologies that have been developing on the sidelines for some time. Scholars contributing to the neuroscience in

An orthodox economic take on climate change shocks

In a debate as politically fractious as climate change, it is useful to have credible voices joining the fray. On Tuesday night, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) waded into the waters with a speech by Deputy Governor Guy Debelle. It has immediately been seen as an urgent call to action. More

An Australian model for the renewable-energy transition

Australia is experiencing a remarkable renewable energy transition. The pipeline for new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems is 6-7 Gigawatts (GW) per year for the period 2019-21. This equates to 250 Watts per person per year compared with about 50 Watts per person per year for the

A certain boredom? Taking stock of democracy in 2019

Even in a world “characterised by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy”, a renowned political theorist once wrote, people will nevertheless “struggle against that peace and prosperity”. Despite relative contentment with the general state of affairs, “a certain boredom” will drive

The new Middle Eastern space race

The launch of the first Israeli mission to the Moon is a milestone for lunar exploration and for private spaceflight.   Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/Cd8nGQwrhd — SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 22, 2019   The Bereshet spacecraft is a small lander, carrying a few instruments and some

Mark Zuckerberg and the revolt of the public

I joined Facebook in 2010. As if by magic, the lives of ‘friends’ lost in time and space materialised on my laptop, so I could partake of their everyday moods, their exotic vacations, their children’s sporting events. This triumph of intimacy over distance accounted for Facebook’s

Doctors help the moral case for border security

On Tuesday evening, the House of Representatives passed a bill supporting the transfer of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for urgent medical care. The bill, initially put forward by independent MP Kerryn Phelps in late 2018, provides expanded capacities that allow two doctors

Indonesia’s role in multilateral development banks

After Jim Yong Kim resigned last month, President Donald Trump indicated he intends to nominate senior US Treasury official David Malpass to lead the World Bank. Under an unofficial agreement, the World Bank President always comes from the United States. Although the multilateral development

Blocking asylum, by sea and air

The case of Saudi teen Rahaf Al-Qunun dramatically demonstrates the difficulties many refugees face when attempting to escape the risk of harm at home and find safety elsewhere – whether they travel by leaky boat, or through international airports surrounded by business travellers and holiday-

Facebook’s first 15 years and lessons for diplomacy

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post, marking 15 years since he hatched the social network in his Harvard dorm, claims Facebook has the potential to be “profoundly positive” for years. Certainly, Facebook has changed diplomacy by changing the way people connect and communicate. But, despite

Cue the crickets: conspiracies and headaches in Havana

A recording of an alleged “sonic attack” on US diplomats in Cuba has been analysed by scientists and found to be … crickets.  Rumours of a mysterious attack on staff at the US embassy in Havana first surfaced in 2016 after diplomats reported hearing loud, piercing noises at night and

Cracks in walls and Trump’s border with Mexico

The political cracks are widening in Washington, as US President Donald Trump struggles to fulfill his 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a wall at the US southern border and have Mexico pay for it. Distancing himself from the original promise, with customary chicanery, Trump announced

How to save one million lives, and then millions more

“Climate change is the greatest health challenge of the 21st century”. Such is the conclusion of the latest report by the World Health Organization (WHO), released last month to coincide with the COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland. The report makes clear that immediate action on

Best of The Interpreter 2018: Our top 10

These are the articles that were most popular among our readers in 2018. 10. Turkey must be thinking of the Bomb, by Wayne McLean There are strong incentives for a nuclear pathway given Turkey’s vulnerabilities and strategic position. Turkey has historically eschewed a nuclear program because

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