GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it)

  • Nicaragua’s crisis and the sharp turnaround of former revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega, who led the 1970s revolution against a tyrant, Anastasio Somoza, now president himself. Paramilitary groups have shot and killed over 300 anti-government protestors, the country’s economy has nose dived and the US is now concerned about a Nicaraguan rush to its borders. We speak to Allison Fedirka, senior analyst and Latin American specialist with GeoPolitical Futures.
  • Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel argues that we have a fundamental duty to be teaching content, that is – concepts, facts & principles – rather than the current preoccupation with “softer” life skills. And he warns if our education system fails to address this, Australia’s future workforce will not be able to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
  • Stephen Mayne discusses the trajectory of Macquarie Bank following the retirement of MD and CEO Nicholas Moore.
  • A Foreign Affair discusses the implications of a possible US strike against Iran, a likely Plan B for the Pacific and Europe, given the volatility of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Guests include: Dr Gorana Grgic Lecturer in US Politics and Foreign Policy, also from the US Studies Centre and the Department of Government and International Relations from Sydney University; Ashley Townshend, Director of the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at the US Studies Centre at Sydney University; and Rory Medcalf, head of the ANU’s National Security College
  • A wide ranging discussion on how to plan for a good death. Two intensive care specialists are concerned that the wishes of the dying are not being prioritised when it comes to critical medical decisions. This is not a discussion about the issue of euthanasia, but about the situation many individuals and families find themselves in when a medical crisis arises. After decades of experience in intensive care wards and thinking about this issue, these doctors urge us to start thinking about our end of life stage before we get there; how to make an advance care plan that will help people make decisions on our behalf, and how to maintain dignity and autonomy for as long as possible. Dr Charlie Corke is author of Letting Go: How to plan for a good death, and Ken Hillman is author of A Good Life to the End.

Other commentary

The Guardian has published Paul Keating’s comment on Channel Nine’s takeover of Fairfax. “The problem with this is that, in terms of news management, Channel Nine, for over half a century, has never other than displayed the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat”, he writes.  He goes on to suggest “if the government really had its way, Australia would face this much closed down and managed landscape without an ABC as it is today – an independent national broadcaster”.

Our treatment of refugees is once again on display to the world. The New York based non-government organization Human Rights Watch has turned its attention to the plight of refugees languishing on Manus Island and Nauru. In a short video embedded in its article you can hear from General Campbell of Operation Sovereign Borders referring to people who “travel illegally [sic] by boat to Australia”, from Aziz Adam from Sudan who has been detained on Manus Island for five years, and from Elaine Pearson, Australia director of Human Rights Watch.

On last Sunday’s ABC Radio National program The Roundtable Eleanor Hall interviewed three experts on Russian-US relations. She posed the question “is Vladamir Putin making Russia great again, and, if so, how much credit should go to Donald Trump?” to three experts: Karine Orlova – Washington correspondent for Echo of Moscow radio; Kyle Wilson – Visiting fellow at the ANU Centre for European Studies, former diplomat and senior Russia analyst at the Office of National Assessments; and Mark Edele – Professor of Soviet and Russian history at the University of Melbourne.

Also on Putin, writing for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter, Kyle Wilson, another Australian former diplomat with Russian experience, analyses Putin’s “brilliantly successful 12 months”. His article ‘Dizzy with success’: What Putin thinks of the Trump Ascendancy examines Putin’s strategy of reaching out to like-minded authoritarian politicians all over the world (Le Pen, Erdoğan, Duterte and even our own Pauline Hanson), while working to weaken the US, NATO and the EU. Wilson queries Putin’s “successes” however. He may be underestimating their long-term consequences.

Official headline figures suggest that the Australian economy is travelling reasonably well, but there are emerging problems. Writing in The Conversation Richard Holden of the University of NSW writes about Australia’s modest employment growth, stagnating real wages and the lack of monetary and fiscal options to stimulate the economy. (Vital Signs: booming jobs numbers, but dig deeper and it’s not all rosy.) Writing in The Guardian Greg Jericho warns about our collapsing tax base as revealed on a recent paper by the Parliamentary Budget Office. (Australia’s tax base is collapsing and we are on a collision course with reality.)

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