Saturday 25 Sep 2021 | 04:35 | SYDNEY


An Atlantic future for Africa?

Jim Terrie is a risk management consultant and former Africa analyst with International Crisis Group. Michael Wesley\'s thought-provoking series, \'Back to Bipolarity\', puts Africa in the \'Atlantic sphere\'. In his first post, Michael writes: On one side of the new bipolar

The Rangoon bombing: A historical footnote

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. President Lee Myung-bak\'s historic visit to Burma this week has inevitably sparked references in the news media to the bomb attack by North Korea against the last South Korean president to make this trip, 29 years ago.

The eurozone: A terrible machine

Greek voters delivered a dramatic protest vote against austerity on 6 May as support for the country\'s traditional parties collapsed. The Greeks have not been alone in venting their frustrations: of 17 governments in the eurozone, ten have been thrown out of office in the past year or so,

Why was Lady Gaga Jakarta show cancelled?

Tom McCawley is a Jakarta-based journalist and analyst. National police have refused to issue a permit for pop star Lady Gaga to perform in Jakarta, disappointing 52,000 fans who have already paid for tickets.  I had suspected that police would at the last minute issue a permit, but

Two energy-crisis videos

The man behind Lost, JJ Abrams, has a new TV series out depicting a world 15 years after the electricity got turned off; the trailer is below. It\'s an interesting premise, and the visual gag involving a Toyota Prius promises some wit and political subtext. But by the end, you get the feeling this

China economic slowdown

Back in February I highlighted a short paper written for us by Alistair Thornton, arguing that we shouldn\'t be too sanguine about Chinese growth prospects this year. On last week\'s evidence, Alistair was right to be cautious, as the data delivered a swathe of soft economic readings for

Monday linkage

The Economist on Vegemite and globalisation. Heh: Tyler Cowen notes that the entire German police force fired a total of 85 rounds in 2011. \'In some cases the United States police manage to best that number while firing at a single suspect.\' Colin Powell says he gets mad when people

Friday linkage

New Urbanism, a school of design and town planning that has transformed the way people think about city life, is 20 years old. ESPN\'s annual list of the world\'s highest-paying sports teams. What comes after the MDGs? To find out, the UN has appointed a panel co-chaired by David Cameron, Susilo

Thursday linkage

JP Morgan doesn\'t like where the global economy is headed. In the UK, monetary policy has become more transparent in recent years, with good results. Why have other parts of government not followed? Some countries are making citizenship a commodity. Are we winning or losing the battle

A new Lowy Institute website

Today the Lowy Institute proudly unveils its new website: The website is not just an update, it\'s a complete overhaul and reflection of the Institute\'s status as a leading global think tank. It provides a cutting-edge, dynamic platform for the Institute to do what it

Movie trailer: Argo

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this new film based on a true story that came out of the siege of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The big story was of course the 66 Americans held hostage for more than a year after the Tehran embassy was overrun by students and militants. But six people from

Reader riposte: Aid, growth and migration

Giovana Arrarte writes: Graeme Dobell\'s post, \'Finally, a Pacific Workers Scheme\', is full of interesting comments and one comment in particular, \'Australia had to tackle the taboo that had endured for decades – labour mobility from the islands. This should be seen as an issue of

Wednesday linkage

Fareed Zakaria says the US has built 17 million square feet of office space to house its intelligence bureaucracies since 9/11. \'We don\'t look like people who have won a war. We look like scared, fearful, losers.\' Some institutions don\'t welcome the scrutiny of the blogosphere. Details

5-min Lowy Lunch: Predicting genocide

Last Wednesday Sydney University academic Ben Goldsmith presented to the Lowy Institute his research on forecasting genocides. After examining data from the early 70s onward, Goldsmith and his fellow researchers found four key factors that determine countries at high risk of genocide:

Doco trailer: The lost Jobs interview

Footage from a 1995 Steve Jobs interview has been rediscovered and now packaged into a documentary. The trailer: Jobs\' judgment on Microsoft is swift, cutting and funny, while the last line reveals a political philosophy — by making good products cheaply, you can make the world a better

The ADF amphibious future

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Both Hugh White and Raoul Heinrichs have recently made comments on the amphibious ships (LHDs) that are soon due into service in the ADF. Hugh portrays this as Army grasping at amphibious straws to justify its existence.

Reader riposte: Why companies don't buy countries

Club Troppo has opened a discussion on this topic in response to Sam Roggeveen\'s post. And here\'s reader Matt Moore with his thoughts: A few observations come to mind (which are separate from Anton Kuruc\'s, although the point about the risk of hostile takeovers is a valid one): 1.

Any more tricks up Bernanke sleeve?

For many, US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been a skilled central banker who helped the US get through the 2008 global financial crisis and has used a bold array of unconventional policy tools to try to get the recovery going more strongly while maintaining low inflation.  During

Monday linkage

Bill Clinton reviews a new LBJ biography: \'His flattery was minutely detailed, finely tuned and perfectly modulated.\' Jakarta has more malls than any other city on earth. Some are now going green. The Diplomat has a two-part interview with Australia\'s Washington ambassador, Kim

Friday funny: Achtung, baby

I know Graeme Dobell\'s headline (\'Kiwi or not Kiwi, that is the question\') is meant as an allusion to Shakespeare, but it put me in mind of Mel Brooks: Enjoy the weekend

Our lost blogging opportunity

Blogger Dragonista has a slightly dyspeptic reply to my recent op-ed about blogs and Twitter. I argued that, although Australia has blogs, it doesn\'t really have a blogosphere. Twitter, I said, has captured the imagination of the Australian political class in a way blogging never has, and the

Reader riposte: Why Apple doesn't buy a country

Anton Kuruc responds to yesterday\'s item, \'Why don\'t companies buy countries\', which mentioned the concept of \'seasteading\': Seasteading is an interesting concept, because it offers companies the ability to create managerial solutions to problems government creates for them. But could this

Friday linkage

The pivot in action? Obama hints at F-16 sale to Taiwan. (Thanks Malcolm.) The Atlantic asks, \'How strong is al Qaeda today?\' (Thanks Alex.) Infographic showing the way budget carriers have transformed European aviation. I would expect the same pattern in Asia, if the regulatory environment

In Indonesia, accountability by social media

Tom McCawley is a Jakarta-based journalist and analyst. Indonesians are obsessed with social media. Their country has one of the highest per capita rates of Facebook use in the world. The following video, depicting an off-duty army officer harassing a fellow motorist and

Why don't companies buy countries?

Dilbert creator Scott Adams seems to have an out-of-left-field idea a week. Here\'s a recent one that intrigued me: I wonder when the first multinational company will form its own country to avoid wars, government red tape, and corporate taxes. It feels inevitable. I assume it will involve

Thursday linkage

Gillard Government bringing forward the Defence White Paper and foreshadowing cuts. Yesterday, regular Interpreter contributor Jim Molan argued in The Australian that the cuts were a big risk. Obama\'s Afghanistan announcement: his aim has always been to target al Qaeda, not rebuild

A big year for conventional arms control

Stephanie Koorey is an Adjunct Research Associate at the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University. This is a big year for fans of conventional arms control. Admittedly, there aren\'t many of us, which is a shame because it\'s a topic that deserves more attention. While arms

Fiji: At last, a positive note

Despite some public sniping between Fiji's acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr at the start of this week's meeting between the Pacific Island Forum's Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji and senior members of the Fijian regime, the outcome of the

Wednesday linkage

In defence of European austerity: Gideon Rachman takes on Paul Krugman. From CNAS comes \'The China Challenge: Military, Economic and Energy Choices Facing the US-Japan Alliance\'. (Thanks Alex.) Russia has three fears about the Syria uprising: losing its arms market, losing its naval

Reader ripostes: Hollywood and middle powerdom

Below, Markus Pfister, but first, Pete Speer responds to Sam Roggeveen\'s \'The new economics of Hollywood\': In the original Ian Fleming books, James Bond was capering against the USSR and its intelligence agencies. In the movies, it was different. The villains without exception were

Reader riposte: Hollywood new economics

Alex Burns responds to Sam Roggeveen\'s post, \'The new economics of Hollywood\': In 2010, Ben Eltham and I did a Media International Australia article on Australia\'s film industry and the pivotal role of international tax arbitrage. The New York Times noted in a Sunday Magazine article&

Tuesday linkage

Warrior in Chief: Obama has been far more trigger-happy than his Republican opponents admit (thanks Michael.) And related, here\'s the latest insiderish account of Obama\'s role in the Bin Laden operation. For those wondering why yesterday\'s Graeme Dobell post on Pacific workers was

The new economics of Hollywood

Michael Fullilove sends me a piece from The Atlantic listing various rules for making a Hollywood hit. This one piqued my interest: For fantasy and superhero franchises, a fresh face is ideal—especially if accompanied by a British or Australian accent, which can feel more universal

Outsourcing aid: To whom?

Danielle Romanes has suggested that if AusAID is short of capacity to administer the planned increase in aid, it can be effectively outsourced. Hugh White accepts the point. But how should we evaluate these alternative channels? The World Bank, currently by far the main channel

China modest military capabilities

This passage in Hugh White\'s latest post deserves a response (emphasis added): Sam\'s confidence that China cannot project serious power as far as Australia is not justified by China\'s lack of capability per se, but by his confidence that another big power, presumably the US, would stop

Asian century linkage

Good news from the Philippines, no longer Southeast Asia\'s economic laughing stock. (Thanks James.) \'At present our universities survive on foreign students paying high fees. Will this flow of revenue continue if a Chinese or Indian student can get a Stanford or MIT qualification at home?\'

Defence: It too risky to wait

Three quick points in response to Sam on fighter numbers and timing. He suggests that we could wait until China has, or is much closer to having, the ability to project serious power to our shores before buying the large numbers of aircraft I have argued we\'d need to defend ourselves from

Friday linkage

The US-Australia alliance: a cost-benefit analysis. (Thanks Graeme.) Does the UK\'s double-dip recession prove that austerity doesn\'t work? The Union of Concerned Scientists says America has \'latent\' anti-satellite weapons. Last month, we again suggested DFAT could action the long

Don't scoff, Kony 2012 worked

There\'s been a lot of scoffing at Invisible Children\'s Kony 2012 campaign. It contains factual errors. It simplifies things. The group doesn\'t give enough of its funds in direct aid. Its filmmaker dances in the street naked. I have never heard such accusations leveled at filmmakers or aid

Defence: How will we know when to expand?

Richard Brabin-Smith is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University. He was formerly Deputy Secretary of Defence and Chief Defence Scientist. Let me make a contribution to the discussion of the \'core force\' and expansion base

Asian Century linkage

China warns North Korea against a nuclear test. (Thanks Malcolm.) An Australia-Indonesia Youth Association survey finds that its hard for Australians to get working visas for Indonesia. To really leap into the Asian Century, Australia must become a republic, says David Morris. Nick

Australia the commodities cop?

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait. In his wide-ranging and insightful contribution of 20 April to this blog, Bandid Nijathawan cites \'gatekeeper for the international commodities market\' as potentially Australia\'s most useful

Anzac Day break

Tomorrow is Anzac Day, a public holiday in Australia. Normal blogging resumes on Thursday. Photo by Flickr user Luke Redmond. 

Tuesday linkage

New Mandala responds to Bandid Nijathaworn\'s Interpreter piece providing a Thai perspective on Australia\'s Asian Century White Paper. America, a nation of spoiled brats: a bracing interview with FT columnist Edward Luce. Casinos, stadiums and tollroads: what distinguishes

Digital age overtaking defence numbers debate

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the ANU. He is co-author, with Peter Yule, of The Collins Class Submarine Story: Steel, Spies and Spin. Posts by Alan Wrigley and Hugh White discussing the \'Core Force\' concept as a methodology for

Best case? Europe will stagnate

The IMF has just wrapped up its latest half-yearly meeting in Washington. The regular forecasts of economic prospects involved some fancy footwork because of the great uncertainty around Europe.  Overall, things now look better than they did in January (when the Fund made an interim

Reader riposte: Technology as saviour

Paul Harris, Deputy Director of the Australian National Institute of Public Policy at the ANU, writes: Thanks for the link to the new documentary \'Surviving Progress\' – hadn\'t stumbled across that until now. You might also be interested in Roger Pielke\'s talk here at ANU in

Monday linkage

James Fallows urges you to read an important speech on \'the world\'s most important story\', China and the environment.  A further Timor update from Gordon Peake. A lively debate about Africa\'s growth miracle. Is it real? Thomas Friedman is large. He contains multitudes.