Australia’s parliament returns to work tomorrow after the winter break and the next fortnight could be squeaky-bum time for politicians sitting in both houses. Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has committed to holding a plebiscite on legalising same-sex marriage but MPs and senators from his Liberal party are lining up to dump the government’s election pledge and force a parliamentary vote on the issue, potentially as early as this month. Although Turnbull supports same-sex marriage, some Australians have lost faith in the referendum as his plans to put the vote to the country keep being kicked down the road. Letting Canberra decide on marriage equality would be a victory for parliamentary democracy and liberal values but at what cost to the Turnbull government in future elections?
When the school year resumes next month, Mogadishu will become the home of around 60 freshmen commencing their degrees in journalism at Somalia’s National University. The Faculty of Journalism and Communication Science is the first journalism school to open in the war-torn nation in the past 26 years, after the old one was forced to shut at the height of the civil war. Violence is still a constant for media professionals in the region due to the threat of al-Shabab militants; the Committee to Protect Journalists has reported more than 25 killings in the past five years alone. A new law approved in January dictating that all reporters are required to have a formal degree fast-forwarded the long-awaited return of the journalism school to the capital. With better trained and officially recognised journalists, there are high hopes for Somalia’s media landscape.
When Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe chose Taro Kono as the country’s top diplomat in a cabinet reshuffle last week, there were sighs of relief in the South Korean capital. After all, Kono’s father, Yohei, was chief government spokesman in 1993 when Japan issued an apology to women who were forced to work in its wartime brothels. Officials in Seoul were counting on the younger Kono – one of the ruling Liberal Democrats’ few outspoken progressive voices – to see things their way: that a 2015 bilateral settlement for the so-called comfort women was flawed and should be renegotiated. But Abe and Kono made clear that they weren’t interested, setting the stage for a tense chat between Kono and South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, on the sidelines of an Asean meeting in Manila.
Even though the US economy has been on the mend since 2008 and unemployment is at a 16-year low, paychecks are stuck in the past. US wages have been slow to rise and it’s the sixth month in which pay growth has declined, even though it should be steadily increasing by 3.5 per cent. One reason for the slow rise seems to be that many young, inexperienced employees are currently joining the workforce as the baby boomers retire. And the US isn’t the only country facing tepid pay growth. In light of Brexit, the Bank of England recently cut its wage growth forecast for the UK. While workers may not be getting the pink slips they once were it remains to be seen if payrolls will rise to meet the increasing cost of living.
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