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The first real test on 2o22 – Russia vs US

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While the United States got bogged down in the Middle East, Russia, like a middle child wanting to play with its older siblings, has been doing anything it could to gain global attention. But just how far will Vladimir Putin go?

Russia has convinced itself its sovereignty is under threat from NATO, a defensive alliance.

Its actions over the past two months, amassing 100,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, have been designed to ram home its intentions – give us what we want or we will create a headache in Eastern Europe which will rival anything China could do.

Putin is a man with a mission. Since he came to power, he has tightened control and punished those who defy him. What’s happening in Kazakstan is an example of how easily Putin will use force to force what he wants. The art of his power is that he waits for Kazakstan to ask him for help. Genius.

However, getting the Russian troops out after they deal with the protesters will be another story, but not a story the United States will be comfortable being compared to.

This latest Russian revolution began the moment the Berlin Wall came down. If the past 30 years have taught us anything, it’s that democracy only thrives in countries that want it.

Russian citizens have never enjoyed the benefits of real democracy, and you only have to walk the streets of Moscow to see how Russia’s version of democracy has failed the people.

Why is Russia misbehaving?

Citizens who were once looked after by the state now live homeless, in scenes reminiscent of poverty in many western cities, including the US and Australia.

In Soviet Russia, you just weren’t allowed to be homeless on the street. You could never be fired from a job. “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us”. But no one was homeless.

It’s an important representation of why so many Russian citizens still support the tight control of Vladimir Putin. For centuries, Russians have tolerated, even supported, strong leadership.

You might call it a dictatorship, you might call it authoritarian – but the Russian’s call it theirs.

Just ask a cab driver how he feels about Mikhail Gorbachev.

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev

The more the US celebrated its success in crippling the Soviet Union, the more the Russians missed it in the years that followed. It’s always seems easier to go back to your ex when you get tired of searching for a new partner.

It’s the economy

But just like democracies in the west, it’s all about the economy. And Russia’s economy, despite its glamorous space program and aviation revival, is still a pittance compared to the nations it compares itself to.

So like any good leader in the face of economic realities, Putin went into his dance.

Threatening, or perhaps promising, to get the old Soviet band back together, as shocking as that song would sound.

Which is where Ukraine finds itself in a difficult spot. Having spent the past decade trying to woo the West, and being wooed by the West.

The mere suggestion is enough to make the Kremlin see red (as if there were any other colour). The Kremlin has called NATO membership for Ukraine a “red line.”

US/Russia talks

So now the stage is set, the stakes are high for the talks which kick off this week in Geneva.

The outcome of the meetings, and how Russian President Vladimir Putin chooses to view them, will have enormous consequences for the safety of Ukraine, as well as the future of NATO and the EU.

Fears of an escalation of the war in eastern Ukraine will be in the air as Western and Russian officials meet first in Geneva, then in Brussels, and then in Vienna to discuss, among other things, Russia’s demands for what it calls security guarantees.

But its demands will almost certainly fail. Which is exactly the game of chess the Russian leader likes to play.

US. and NATO officials have have already called out some of Russia’s demands, such as a bar on NATO expansion and the withdrawal of NATO infrastructure from Central and Eastern Europe, are nonstarters.

Any dismissal of his terms could give him the excuse he wants to invade Ukraine, though Napoleon and Hitler never found it too easy to launch an invasion in a European, let alone a Soviet winter.

Neither Biden nor Putin will be attending the meetings in Europe over the coming weeks. They have held numerous phone calls recently.

How to keep Russia inside the tent

So what does Russia want? Well, it didn’t take well to being kicked out of the G8 when it annexed Crimea. It took revenge by undermining anything its hackers would gain access to.

Like any kid with middle child syndrome, perhaps all Moscow needs is to feel like they are welcome back inside the tent The problem is, the West doesn’t know how to discipline Moscow when it inevitably tries to burn the tent down again.

Ukraine will be off the agenda when Russia and US diplomats meet. As absurd as it sounds at first, given Kiev is the reason the talks are taking place, it may turn out to be the beginning of something long needed: An ongoing conversation between the US and Russia.

For both countries have more in common than they care to admit. Every nation needs an enemy, whether it’s a democracy or an autocracy. But the jousting from both sides for supremacy, has led the world down a dangerous path.

Ahron Young is an award winning journalist who has covered major news events around the world. Ahron is the Managing Editor and Founder of TICKER NEWS.

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Are U.S. lawmakers more worried about protecting gun rights than children? | ticker VIEWS

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Yet another mass shooting in America, and the world is reeling because change is unfortunately unlikely

As a human being, as a woman, as a Journalist, as a daughter, and as a friend, I was wholeheartedly saddened to hear of the Texas mass shooting in Uvalde, at Robb Elementary School.

I was, and still am angry, sad, and horrified, but unfortunately, not surprised.

Guns are woven into the fabric of America, in particular, Texas.

It’s becoming clearer after each senseless murder, that lawmakers are more worried about protecting their gun rights than they’re innocent people.

Enough is enough.

It’s almost ten years since the Sandy Hook mass shooting where 20 children were murdered.

You would assume that particular massacre would’ve been enough to ignite change in American gun rights, but it wasn’t.

Now, another group of children has been slaughtered in their classrooms. So what is the threshold before something is done?

Children shouldn’t have to live in fear. The kids of Uvalde were just two days out from summer vacation, where they should be just that- kids.

Now, the selfish and barbaric actions of one 18-year-old individual, who had easy access to an assault rifle, stole their futures away.

Moments of silence are not enough, condolences are not enough.

This does not happen as frequently in any other country in the world. So why is the political appetite for change in America so low?

“You cannot separate the fabric of gun ownership from the reality of being American”

megran pratz, cheddar
Megan pratz, cheddar

Gun law overhaul

Here’s what’s being discussed in Congress, in regards to making a change to gun rights.

Currently, federal law does not require unlicensed gun sellers to conduct background checks prior to the purchase of arms. 

Dubbed the H.R. 8 bill, it would step up the required background checks before a gun is purchased.

However, it continues to be stalled in the Senate, where it needs ten Republican votes to get through.

It’s now in the process of getting on the upper chamber’s calendar, with many pushing for an urgent vote, even if it’s doomed to fail by Republicans.

They argue that background checks tarnish gun rights and will take away guns.

“You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,”

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will also push for a gun safety bill to be voted on in June.

The proposed bill would “allow family members and law enforcement to obtain an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or to others by a federal court.”

Red flag laws are also in place, but they prove ineffective far too frequently.

They only alert a problem if someone has a criminal history or has been previously deemed mentally ill.

Meaning cases like the 18-year-old suspect in the Uvalde mass shooting slipped through the cracks.

Most regulations on gun rights vary from state to state, because gun regulation cannot pass at the Federal level, with no majority support.

Therefore, it leaves gun use and availability up to the leaders of each state.

At this point in time, gun control will not stop every horrific attack, but it will make a difference.

If you keep doing the same process in life, you will get the same outcome. A mass shooting nearly every week in America is surely enough reason to make a change?

“The President should demand that the Senate meet right now on the gun control bill and let the votes fall where the children die”

Bruce wolpe, U.s studies centre

National Rifle Association meeting

And most distastefully, the National Rifle Association convention is scheduled for this weekend in Houston, Texas.

Attendees at this convention are prohibited from “bringing firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items.”

So no guns are allowed at the NRA meeting but an 18-year-old can walk into an elementary school with an assault rifle and massacre innocent people.

The irony in that. As the NRA essentially continues to hold America hostage.

“You’ll see a very paradoxical messaging strategy, where NRA will talk about guns for everyone, everywhere, all the time, while not allowing guns in its own events”

mega pratz, cheddar
megan pratz, chedda

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Joe and Albo already talk the same language | ticker VIEWS

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The morning after the election here, President Joe Biden, in Seoul on the first leg of his first major trip to Asia to engage with the US’s principal allies in the Indo-Pacific, was on the phone to Anthony Albanese:

“President Biden spoke with Australian Prime Minister-Designate Anthony Albanese to congratulate him on his election as Australia’s 31st prime minister. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ steadfast commitment to the U.S-Australia alliance and his intent to work closely with the new government to make it stronger still. President Biden expressed deep appreciation for the Prime Minister-Designate’s own early commitment to the alliance, reflected in his decision to travel almost immediately to Tokyo to attend the Quad Summit—a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. President Biden looks forward to a close partnership between our administrations that will benefit the American people, the Australian people, and the world, starting with consequential meetings in Japan this week.”

Bruce Wolpe on ticker NEWS

The foundations of the alliance are exceptionally strong, capped last year with the announcement of the AUKUS strategic partnership.  

AUKUS ALLIANCE

At any summit meeting between leaders, or when they get on a video call, what becomes so important is the resonance, the chemistry between them. 

That deeper personal chemistry has informed the quality of the ties between several prime ministers and presidents:  Bob Hawke and George H W Bush in the first Gulf War to liberate Kuwait; Paul Keating and Bill Clinton to establish APEC; John Howard and George W Bush on 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US-Australia free trade agreement; Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama to get Australia into the G20;  Julia Gillard and Obama stationing Marines in Darwin and the pivot to Asia; Scott Morrison and Donald Trump in alliance against China and exempting Australia from Trump’s trade wars.  

Tony Abbott and Barack Obama

It has not been all sweetness and light:  Tony Abbott and Barack Obama famously disagreed on global warming, especially on its endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef.  Their discussions were chilly while the globe warmed.

The new PM’s relationship with Biden will have a special dimension.

In Anthony Albanese, Biden will see someone very close to his life experience and values

  • They both come from poorer backgrounds, and they know what it means for families to pull themselves up. 
  • They are both Catholic.
  • They both strongly support unions and good union jobs. Biden is pro-union, pro-worker and pro-manufacturing.  So is Albanese.
  • They are both huge on infrastructure.  It is Biden’s strongest achievement in Congress so far, and Albanese served as Infrastructure Minister for 6 years.  They can talk planes, trains and broadband.
  • Albanese has taken a Biden-style agenda to his campaign.  Biden won office with Build Back Better and Albanese’s hopes are with A Better Future.  
  • They both support policies that have at their core helping working families not only with higher wages and good jobs, but also helping them shoulder the cost of living for childcare, education, medicines, and care for seniors.
  • Labor is simpatico with Biden on climate, electric vehicles and renewable energy.  In fact, an Albanese government can get more enacted on climate than Biden can in this or the next Congress.

Joe and Anthony will find themselves talking the same language.  They already do. When they shake hands, the Prime Minster will say, “Everyone calls me Albo.” And Joe will.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a ‘Quad nations’ meeting at the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein – RC2IWP9759ZQ

At the end of the Tokyo talks, we should expect Biden to invite Albo to Washington, and for the PM to invite the President to come to Australia.  They will want to spend more time together.

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Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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