Monday, January 30, 2017

Fast Tracks, But To Where?

Tillerson, Trump, and the South China Sea - Amitai Etzioni in The Diplomat

"Moreover, these statements are all written on ice. As soon as the sun rises, they melt away and can be replaced not merely by some modification but by a rather different position altogether. Thus, one day Trump criticizes the intelligence community and accuses them of being behind a smear campaign against him. Next, he claims that the rift between him and the CIA was made up by the “dishonest” media. For much of the campaign, and even after the election, he criticized the Iraq War. Then, at his speech to the CIA, after saying we should have taken Iraq’s oil, he says “maybe we’ll have another chance.” One moment, he says that Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, but then only a few moments later he says: “Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation.” No one should be surprised if he states tomorrow that China can have all the islands it wants because protecting them would cost too much or some other random thought."

Rohingya Camps in Thailand and Bangladesh, Worlds Apart
Maher Sattar, Al Jazeera

'What Thailand has done - with the Karen, Kachin and Shan refugees who came earlier from Myanmar, and the Rohingya refugees later - is to engage with the refugee population and operate using a framework of international cooperation.

Organisations such the The Border Consortium, a group of nine international NGOs, and others play a large role in administering the camps in Thailand.

"We work closely with the Thai government, because it always becomes an issue of national law and how the national law allows undocumented migrants to access services," says Chiaki Lee, the project's manager at IOM.

"And we also work closely with local NGOs, because they are the ones that provide community-based services."

The Bangladesh government, on the other hand, seems to have settled on the tactic of sticking their head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.

After 25 years, it still hasn't.'

Sino-Japanese Propaganda War Heating Up
Jeff Kingston in The Japan Times

Cambridge University historian Barak Kushner argues that “the most counterproductive propaganda effort on the Chinese side is probably the constant push to say to the Japanese that they need to ‘reflect on history like a mirror’ because now revisionist Japanese are pushing back in a comparative manner and saying that if you Chinese want to reflect so much on the war, you also need to think about the destruction that Mao caused.” In Kushner’s view, China’s more assertive stand on wartime history is counterproductive because it is entrenching a more hostile attitude among Japanese.

He notes that Beijing’s blunders are matched by Tokyo, because “no matter how many times a Japanese PM officially apologizes … there is a long list from the 1980s of individual ministers then saying stupid things and/or refuting the Nanjing Massacre.” This “has led to the idea throughout East Asia that Japan feels no culpability.”

Centrelink a Fast Track to Turnbull's Demise
Ross Gittins in The Sydney Morning Herald

Really? This is the way bureaucrats and politicians get their names into the history books for contributing to their government's demise.

So far they've mainly been picking on young people on the dole, but now they're moving on to invalids and age pensioners. Really? Courageous decision, minister.

What on earth is motivating them? Partly it's that, having made so much fuss about debt and deficit while in opposition, the government is having enormous trouble getting the budget deficit down.

It lacks the courage to tackle the big sources of rent-seeking by business interests, but is confident it can get away with cracking down on the tiddlers in social security.

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