Looking Back on the 1992 Rio Earth Summit

World leaders and government officials as well as representatives from NGOs and the corporate sector are currently convening in Rio de Janeiro, for “Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.” The conference is timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the seminal 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It is therefore worth looking back on the achievements of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to remind ourselves of what can be achieved when parties from around the world unite to address global environmental problems and highlight the obstacles and limitations of international multilateral processes in pursuing environmental objectives.

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Living Lightly: Reciprocal Bonds and the Trust Horizon

BY BEN HABIB. One of the exiting aspects of living lightly is the opportunity it provides for community building and connecting with other people. Strong social networks will become increasingly important as we grapple with environmental problems, energy insecurity and financial turmoil at the end of the age of growth. As a specialist in international relations, I look to Chinese culture for ideas on building social cohesion during tough times.

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Grassroots Reaction to Economic Crisis: The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement

BY BEN HABIB. Over the past month a grassroots protest movement called Occupy Wall Street has sprung up in the United States, in reaction to that country’s increasing disparity between rich and poor in the context of severe economic crisis, the hollowing out of the middle class and the government’s co-option by big finance. Occupy Wall Street, taken together with the Tea Party movement and the recent debt ceiling fiasco in Congress are signals pointing to the unravelling of the American political system. For this reason, it is worth paying close attention to the ongoing evolution of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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The End of Infinite Growth: The Economic Face of Natural Limits

BY BEN HABIB. This article delves into the terrain of macroeconomics, political economy and energy. Human societies, along with the economies that facilitate the exchange of goods and services within and between them, can only grow to the extent that the physical limits of the natural world will allow. Systemic breakdown is likely if these limits are exceeded, a reality with which we are beginning to grapple as ecological, energy and economic crises coalesce into a perfect storm.

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Revolutions in the Middle East — Presentation by Dr Luca Anceschi

Watchers of international affairs cannot help but be mesmerised by the rebellions that have unfolded across the Middle East in 2011. In this instalment of the podcast, we are fortunate to be joined by Dr Luca Anceschi from La Trobe University in Melbourne. On Monday 11th April, Luca made a presentation at the LTU Albury-Wodonga campus entitled Revolutions in the Middle East, for second and third year Bachelor of Arts students taking the subject International Relations of the Middle East.

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Interview with Heather Bruer from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Our guest on the podcast today, Heather Bruer from the Australian Youth Climate Coaltion (AYCC), is a 21 year old Economics student at the University of Adelaide and is currently co-director of the AYCC in South Australia. In December 2010 Heather was part of the Australian Youth Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Council of Parties 16 (COP16) climate talks in Cancún, Mexico. In the podcast, Heather talks about her experiences at COP16 in Cancún, the reasons she became a climate activist and the moral imperative for young people to engage with the politics of climate change, as well as her thoughts on the current carbon pricing debate in Australia.

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Tension in Korea — The Artillery Exchange at Yeonpyeong

BY BEN HABIB. The exchange of shell fire overnight between North and South Korea is symptomatic of the tense new dynamic on the Korean peninsula, stemming from the North’s muscular new stance as a nuclear weapons power. This comes only months after the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, another serious provocation widely blamed on Pyongyang.

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Getting to Know the Neighbourhood — Understanding East Asia

BY BEN HABIB. During the past week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been in Vietnam representing Australia at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. East Asia—comprising China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, Taiwan and the United States as a vested external player—is a complex strategic environment characterised by ongoing rivalry and historic animosity. It is a region vital to Australia’s economic and security interests. Because of these broad economic and security interests, it is important that we in Australia come to a better understanding of the dynamics of international politics in the East Asian region.

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Surviving Stalin, Hitler and White Australia

BY BEN HABIB.
Fear and ignorance are a poor basis for making any kind of decision, including the decision we make at the ballot box on election day. In this posting I will tell the story of my grandmother, a Ukrainian peasant girl who survived the evil crimes of Stalin and Hitler to find a home amidst the racial intolerance of white Australia. She knew the real meaning of fear and rose above it.

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