Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun had applied to come to Australia.
But she told SBS News the process was taking too long and she feared for her life because her father and brother were in Thailand.
“Yes, toooooo long,” she responded to SBS News, when asked about the length of time.
The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, had hustled to determine her refugee status. Then the UNHCR:
- had raised concerns about Ms Qunun’s security the longer she remained in Bangkok – leading her to be taken to the Canadian embassy on Friday where her visa was processed within several hours.
That’s about how long as it takes the Australian government to approve an oper’s visa for one of their mates.
My understanding is that the refugee application system in Canada is normally handled at arms length from government and one of the criticisms has been that while it is fair it is slow. Seems when a case is urgent it can be speeded up.
Australia on the other hand made it clear that a young woman’s life being in danger was not a consideration at all.
2. Is Brexit about to blow?
Brexit is reaching a crunch point, so there is no shortage of articles in the British media:
Everyone seems to agree that the one outcome to be avoided is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. However, no-one can suggest a strategy to avoid this outcome which the majority of parliamentarians will agree to. Cross-party alliances to form a Government of National Unity are a possibility, but political tribalism will probably ensure nothing like that happens. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit also requires the least effort, so prospects are not good.
The following article sees a possible way forward. It has the added advantage of banishing the Tories to the political wilderness for a couple of decades, remaking Britain into a decent social democracy along the lines of the ‘Nordic’ model by burying free market cruelty forever, bringing institutional democratic change to the UK. And remake the EU from within.
The underlying issue is Dani Rodrik’s “impossibility theorem” for the global economy that is like that. It says that democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full. In terms of the Brexit trilemma this means only two of the following three are possible:
a) Retain the benefits of economic integration that come via membership of the EU’s single market and customs union;
b) Reclaim national sovereignty by returning powers to the British parliament that currently lie with the European institutions;
c) Uphold democratic principles by ensuring that we have a say over all the laws we are subjected to.
The key fact, however, is that the UK is never going to be a large economic power in global terms.
- The reality is that an independent UK will be reduced to a “rule taker” that has to abide by decisions taken by the EU, China and the USA.
Britain’s best bet is to adopt a ‘remain and reform’ strategy. Germany has shown how EU rules and policies can be made to favour its interests, and how it can ignore them without penalty. Britain within the EU would be a major player economically.
Is Jeremy Corbyn smart enough to pull it off? Probably not, he’d certainly need luck.
3. Ocasio-Cortez shakes up politics
Antonio García Martínez in How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shapes a New Political Reality:
- I’ll just say it: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a social media marketing genius, and very likely a harbinger of a new American political reality.
Last week there was a kerfuffle over a college-age AOC doing a dance routine, in which AOC gave as good as she got.
It was a spectacle all the way down, but in the media swirl AOC dropped a very concrete policy proposal – increase the top marginal income tax rate to 70 percent. Paul Krugman, economics Nobelist and New York Times columnist, was there in an instant supporting her, and a policy door opened.
- In a world awash in irony and preening phoniness, she possesses the unique and valuable currency of authenticity: She is who she ran as, she’ll be that same person in office, and it drives her political opponents crazy.
Ocasio-Cortez is not just remaking the way politics is done, she is extending and enlarging what is politically possible.
Now More than 600 environmental groups just backed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. A letter sent to Congress laying out the 626 groups’ vision for a Green New Deal:
emphasizes respecting indigenous rights and a transition away from fossil fuels that centers justice, including a “comprehensive economic plan to drive job growth and invest in a new green economy that is designed, built and governed by communities and workers.” A similar plan has been implemented in Spain to help coal workers, while the pitfalls of not engaging with the people most impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels are clear in France’s yellow vest protests.
An important point is France’s gas tax disaster shows we can’t save the earth by screwing over poor people.
Ocasio-Cortez understands this, but I’m not sure she goes as far as Naomi Klein, who in the challenge of climate change sees a choice between capitalism as we know it and civilisation as we know it.
Historian Rick Perlstein sees Ocasio-Cortez in a real sense as a throw-back to a braver Democratic Party of the past. He sees the Democratic Party as having been traumatised by the shock of Ronald Reagan. Certainly Ocasio-Cortez espouses a brand of politics that threatens the accommodation the Democratic Party has made with the capitalist system of modern America by seeking to disrupt privilege, inequality, marginalisation and exclusion.
4. Family matters
Coming up three months ago Mark fled Sydney and holed up with us here in Brisbane. Two generations separate us – I’m pre-baby boomer and he’s Generation X – but we are good friends and my wife and I have enjoyed conversation and watching TV etc.
This has crowded my screen time into a corner of the day where it has been difficult to sustain blogging.
On January 22 to 29 my daughter and granddaughter are coming to stay, so I’ll be comprehensively distracted.
Immediately after that the changeover begins. Mark has rented a studio apartment in Brisbane City (22sq m – the size of a decent motel room – ready to inhabit, with bed, kitchenette, electricity, water and wi-fi included, corner position, views to city Botanical Gardens, access to full kitchen, swimming pool etc) from 1 February and from the 7th at latest our young son is moving back in with the aim of buying his own digs. Might take a while.
I’m told an opinion has been expressed that there is a distinction to be made between blogging and living, but I assure you blogging is important to me, and I’m not finished. Just constrained, and, yes, families do matter.