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The author with his brother and father on the way to Florida

The last exiles

“Normalization” – that’s been the word of the week among Cubans and Cuba watchers. Set aside for the moment whether it’s really possible for a dictatorship and a democracy to have normal relations, since…
The star-spangled banner yet waves over a Havana taxi-bike. EPA/Alejandro Ernesto

Obama’s Cuba move is more a milestone than a turning point

The recent news that the United States and Cuba are finally beginning to “normalise” relations has understandably caught the world’s imagination, given the two countries’ longstanding mutual hostility…
Havana: soon to be a boom town? Stefan Vetter

Diplomatic thaw with the US is a gift to the Cuban economy

The restoration of full diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, announced simultaneously by Barack Obama and Raúl Castro yesterday, is a huge political breakthrough. The benefits to the Cuban economy…
Fidel Castro during a visit to Washington in 1959. U.S. Department of State

Cuba and US: the long, twisted tale of two countries

The action by President Obama to move toward the normalization of US-Cuba relations is long overdue. The US ruptured ties with Cuba in early January 1961, under President Eisenhower, not only in the context…
Obama announces the biggest Cuba policy shift in 50 years. EPA/Doug Mills

After a tense 50 years, Obama and Castro announce US-Cuba thaw

In the United States and Cuba’s strained relationship over the past 50-odd years, certain key flashpoints stand out: the Bay of Pigs incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and many more. December 17 2014…
New norms for what goes on inside this room. image from www.shutterstock.com

Using science to improve the practice of interrogation

The release of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program documents the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) against terrorism…
Seattle protests the Ferguson grand jury decision. Jason Redmond/Reuters

Ferguson is not a special case

Last week on ABC’s This Week, President Obama said, “My own experience tells me race relations continue to improve,” and “There’s no way to say race relations are worse than 20, 50 years ago.” It’s impossible…
EPA/Michael Reynolds

Hagelian dialectics: Chuck gets the chop

To lose one Secretary of Defense might be considered unfortunate. To have lost three and to be looking for a fourth looks like something more fundamental and systemic. The early departure of Chuck Hagel…
President Obama’s immigration plan may help some illegal migrants find higher-paying jobs, helping spur some additional economic activity. Reuters

Obama’s immigration plan may give economy a little boost

An estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States live in daily fear of deportation. This fear permeates nearly every aspect of their lives. President Barack Obama’s executive actions…
John Howard made sure he was facing the same way as other world leaders on climate policy, unlike the current Prime Minister. AAP Image/David Crosling

How John Howard could help turn Tony Abbott around on climate

Throughout his prime-ministership, which ran from 1996 to 2007, John Howard’s perspective on climate change was informed by geopolitics more than science. The Kyoto Protocol, the key international climate…
They have family values too Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Family values and deportation don’t go together

Not so long ago, I sat across the table from Teresa, age 25, in a migrant shelter right across the border from Nogales Arizona, her tired face glimmered through the veil of tears as she described her experience…
What difference will President Obama’s executive order make for this family? Sandy Huffaker/Reuters

The president’s executive order: what difference will it make for immigrants?

Editor’s note: On November 20, President Obama announced a plan - through an executive order - to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation if they meet certain criteria. His move has…
He’s not done yet Larry Downing/Reuters

Is the Obama presidency over?

Is the Obama presidency over? This has been the burning question on the lips of many Washington DC pundits and beltway insiders in the wake of devastating Democratic midterm election losses. According…
Republican senator Mitch McConnell says the new climate deal will let China “do nothing” until 2030. Far from it. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/AAP

FactCheck: does the new climate deal let China do nothing for 16 years?

“As I read the agreement it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and around the country.” – US Republican Senate…
Rebalancing towards Asia…with values. Dan Peled/AAP

‘And speaking of China…’ Obama’s hope for Asia

US President Barack Obama took to the stage at the University of Queensland in Brisbane on a day which had the soles of your shoes melting. We had been through a complicated but reasonable security process…
US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd at the University of Queensland. AAP/Dan Peled

Obama: protect Barrier Reef from climate change

US president Barack Obama has given Australia a sharp prod on climate change, saying he wanted his future grandchildren to…

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