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How the West’s dealt with Ukraine compared to Afghanistan

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Ukraine has marked one month since Russian forces entered its territory, as the world remembers images of Afghanistan when the Taliban took over

As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine unfolds, Afghanistan continues to deal with major challenges.

Heather Barr is from Human Rights Watch, she says there is a very clear difference when it comes to how the world has responded to Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“It’s impossible not to notice the differences in how many countries, particularly in Europe are responding to fleeing Ukrainians versus feeling Afghans.”

HEATHER BARR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the war in Ukraine will “have to move from the battlefield to the peace table”, in the coming weeks.

Afghans latch onto a U.S. Air Force jet departing Kabul.

It comes as the Taliban bans young girls from attending school despite saying things would change.

Antonio Guterres says the decision was a profound disappointment. “The denial of education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls to education,” he says.

Afghan girls were told about the decision as they arrived back at school.

“The school’s assistant manager arrived and she was crying, she took and the microphone and said she can’t speak.”

“We were all surprised as to why she was crying instead of welcoming us. Then she told us to leave the school because the officials haven’t allowed girls to come to school,” an Afghan girl says.

When the Taliban was in control of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they banned female education and some employment.

The Taliban since imposed gender segregation and new rules about the conduct and clothing for women at universities.

A maternity hospital is blown up in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka

The UN refugee agency says there are nearly 6 million Afghans who have been forcibly displaced from their homes since conflict started.

“There’s been a lot of support from Afghans for Ukrainian people and what they’re going through,” Heather Barr says.

Meanwhile, over 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled their war-torn nation since conflict erupted.

“Nobody knows better than Afghans what Ukrainians are experiencing with their cities being destroyed, and being forced to flee their homes and country.”

HEATHER BARR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

The UN has urged all parties to Respect its Charter, and work towards practical solutions.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Does Donald Trump stand a chance against Joe Biden?

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As Americans prepare to head to the polls, Democrats and Republicans may be tied for control of Congress

The U.S. is preparing for the all-important midterm elections in a matter of months.

For President Joe Biden, it could be a stark warning that his leadership is on thin ice, or it could be the validation he needs ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

There will be 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate up for contention this November.

But as President Biden prepares to ride the campaign wave, it’s the so-called “MAGA Republicans”, which are drawing attention.

“We have to be stronger and more determined and more committed to saving American democracy, than the MAGA Republicans and that guy destroying democracy.”

U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

The majority of Americans believe political violence will increase across the country. According to the same polling from CBS, U.S. voters think the nation will become less democratic for future generations.

Kim Hoggard is a former U.S. government official, who served in the Bush and Reagan Administrations, she said the current political climate is proving a challenge for leaders to connect with voters.

“I wonder how it is that in this period in American political history where divisiveness is so wide and so dangerous, how it could be that a president can achieve high approval ratings anymore.”

In fact, around six in 10 Americans (57%) disapprove of Biden’s performance, according to recent Ipsos polling from Reuters.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the “soul of the nation” in a recent address.

The president’s dwindling ratings have been characterised by some factors out of his control—the pandemic, rising inflation, cost of living, and the war in Ukraine.

But there is one foreign policy outcome, which could be the reason for his falling support, according to Stephan Loosley from the U.S. Studies Centre.

“There’s no question that an enormous hole was punched in the Biden White House with the fiasco, the calamity of the Afghanistan withdrawal, which was badly mishandled.”

However, when it comes to the war in Ukraine, Loosley said Russian President Vladimir Putin misread the strength of U.S. intelligence, and Biden’s hold on his NATO allies.

“The President’s mobilisation of NATO in the face of the illegal Russia incursion of Ukraine has been extraordinary,” he said.

In light of this, President Biden has still managed a strong legislative agenda. This includes climate change action, healthcare reform, military aid for Ukraine, and infrastructure commitments.

Is this enough to sink Biden’s ship?

The U.S. midterm elections are scheduled for November, and with a general election on the cards for 2024, there is much discussion about the rise of former President Donald Trump.

On the other hand, Biden can’t seem to let the former president out of his mind. In fact, he recently spoke about the rise of Make America Great Again (MAGA) Republicans during a nationwide address.

“There’s no democracy where you can be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy,” he said.

The president’s approval ratings are also yet to reach the record low levels of President Trump, which sunk to 33 per cent at the end of 2017.

As it stands, the Democrats have 221 seats in the House of Representatives, and 48 members in the senate.

“The probability of the Democrats losing control of the house is very real. That’s been the history of American midterms since Harry Truman,” Loosley said.

“It’s just possible the Democrats may hold onto control of the Senate. A lot of that has to do with the ‘MAGA Republican’ candidates… those who are endorsed by the former president.”

STEPHEN LOOSLEY, U.S. STUDIES CENTRE

Of course, Trump hasn’t been without his own worries—the fallout from the Capitol riots, raids at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a lawsuit against his company, and a criminal investigation in Georgia.

Kim Hoggard, who is a former White House Assistant Press Secretary, said these events show Trump is unfit for office.

“The mishandling of sensitive information and top secret intelligence information show what a dangerous person he would be if he were to regain the presidency,” she said.

He may be considered dangerous but nearly one in five (19%) of Americans identify as ‘MAGA Republicans’. This is hardly going to be a blip on Joe Biden’s radar.

“There’s no question that Mitch McConnell is determined that Trump will bear any responsibility for Republican losses in the midterms,” Stephen Loosley from the U.S. Studies Centre said.

Mitch McConnell is the Minority Leader in the Senate and he believes the House of Representatives will flip this November.

“You have all these investigations, inquiries, and probes running simultaneously, it’s got to divert and distract the Republican Party and it’s got to damage some Republican candidates’ races,” Loosley said.

In terms of Trump’s 2024 possibilities, Kim Hoggard said the criminal investigations and lawsuits “are going to significantly affect his [Trump’s] ability to be a viable candidate”.

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The monarchy fights for survival without the Queen

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Queen Elizabeth II was notably one of the most respected figures in the world, and now the monarchy fights for survival

Queen Elizabeth II was the most private, public figure. Her Majesty was a constant thread in millions of lives. A symbol of continuity for seven decades.

Undoubtedly, the Queen’s global impact will be hard to match.

As her reign fuelled widespread revolution that altered the very landscape of the nation.

Politically, culturally and technologically, the Queen’s leadership was unwavering, and her wish was for this lead to stand the test of time.

History shows, the royal family is not immune from life’s challenges and controversies.

But through turbulent times, the Queens poise, strength and class always prevailed.

Above everything else, she was a constant. The ever-reliable presence holding the royal family together.

Contributor Cei Dewar, was lucky enough to meet the Queen and says millions around the world are mourning her loss, and everything she represents.

“She was a unifying force in the UK, the Commonwealth and across the world…even in her death…Her legacy and her legend with live on for eternity… in the hearts and minds of every life she touched in such a significant way.”

Cei dewar – CONTRIBUTOR
Cei Dewar- contributor

Monarchy fights for survival

As the world waves goodbye to Her Majesty, the monarchy fights for survival, finding its way forward without Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles III is at the reigns, inheriting the lead on what the royal family becomes.

The King is taking the reign on a very different world.

Cei Dewar- Contributor

He will be exposed to public scrutiny like never before, the internet phenomenon, and a world where Republicans are on the rise. 

However, His Majesty has expressed his determination to focus on diversity, climate change action and maintain the institutions relevance on the global diplomatic stage. 

King Charles’ tumultuous personal life was often the downfall of his popularity, but now, he has pledged his life to serve as King.

Charles’ reputation slipped after the death of Diana, and ever since he has worked to build his popularity. 

But solidarity within his own family will be the key driver of success.

Notably, Prince William and Harry have already showed their reconciled solidarity. Standing side by side, reunited in grief.

Their relationship will be paramount to conserving the monarchy. 

While the future of the monarchy hangs in the balance, it will be difficult for King Charles the III to fill the shoes of his late mother. As well as connect with the national psyche and be a reassuring presence. 

Most people don’t know a world without Queen Elizabeth II, and although saying goodbye is heartbreaking, a new reign now begins. 

Perhaps, the rise of Charles to the throne will be the injection of change the royal family needs to last beyond the 21st century. 

A big job lies ahead. For now, the world has his pledge and actions will speak for themselves. 

Charles the King, a role he has been waiting for his entire life. 

Photo credit: Harper’s Bazaar

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Do countries pick and choose where justice falls?

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For years, human rights groups have been urging world leaders to hold China accountable for its alleged human rights abuses

There have been numerous reports of human rights abuses within China, but no clear way of holding the country to account.

In particular, reports of abuse against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang province have sparked global concerns.

The UN Human Rights office released a report highlighting the brutality of abuse against muslim minorities in China.

“Allegations of patterns of torture, or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.”

Michelle bachelet – un high commissioner of human rights

The damning report confirms what human rights groups have been concerned about for years. It details victims accounts of “detention, torture, cultural persecution and forced labor.”

While, the UN Human Rights Office says it’s committed to supporting China to address the issues evident in the report, other groups say immediate action is required.

Non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Watch, is calling on Australia to join other leading nations in making Chinese crimes against humanity punishable.

The organisation wants to see China exposed to sanctions, starting with legislation to prevent the import of any goods made with forced labor.

The group wants businesses, states and the international community to take action.

Holding China accountable

While the reports of China’s abuse in the Xinjiang region are horrific, world leaders seem to be finding it difficult to hold the communist country accountable. It raises questions about where accountability comes from and how it is policed.

Human Rights Watch want the Australian Government to move in line with other leading nations like the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to target China’s behaviour.

They want businesses to stop importing goods that are manufactured through forced labor, and a new legislation in place to enforce it.

However, thousands of Australian businesses rely heavily on China’s manufacturing hubs.

For some, they’re the backbone of their survival. So is it fair or realistic to put this expectation and responsibility on Australian business owners?

“Is it realistic that in the year 2022 we want to import goods from political prisoners?

Political prisoners who are locked up for no other reason other than they are muslim.”

sophie mcneill – human rights watch

However, the level of complexity attached to a problem shouldn’t justify turning a blind eye to it.

Australia lagging behind

The EU, US, UK and Canada have all made significant efforts to tackle China’s alleged human rights abuses.

They have taken a stand by implementing acts and legislation to deter China’s behaviour. The United States, for example, has the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which provides customs authorities increased powers to enforce bans on imports from forced labor.  

This has many wondering why Australia hasn’t taken any concrete action to condemn China’s human rights abuses.

Tensions between Australia and China have been at an all time high since Australia moved to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.

Some say Australia is concerned for the repercussions and consequences of holding China accountable on the global stage.

“We’ve been calling on the Australian Government to take action for years now… We’ve run out of excuses. Now is the time to act.”

Sophie Mcneill- Human Rights watch

Does China care about sanctions?

As a communist country, China has shown time and time again that it does not mind being an outlier on the global stage.

Some say that targeted sanctions will not deter or stop the abuse against ethnic minorities. While others say if a coalition of countries band together to call out the abuse, then it is more likely to have a real impact.

Double standards

Many countries around the world has or has had reports of human rights abuses in one way or another.

Soon, Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which in largely known for its human rights abuses. In particular, there have been reports of human rights abuses during the construction of the stadiums required for the cup.

However, all of the countries who are now taking a stand against China are heading to the world cup. It raises questions of hypocrisy and whether leading Governments are selecting who they hold accountable based on their own political rhetoric.

Are world leaders picking and choosing where justice falls?

“Governments do pick and choose and that hinders our ability to hold China accountable.”

Sophie Mcneill- Human Rights watch

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