Glenn Ashton - It's difficult to be positive about our educational system, supported by a government department that consumes more than a fifth of our total budget. Despite this we languish at the bottom of the international league in maths and science. The educational system in several provinces is in tatters with dismal facilities. Additionally, the Minister of Lower Education is regularly at odds with the dominant teachers union and with public opinion. Add to this a mess of different systems, together with a barrage of court cases involving various aspects of education, and a picture emerges of a seriously dysfunctional educational system.
Stephen Zunes - Until the United States is willing to take a principled stand against all war crimes, regardless of the relationship of the perpetrator with the United States, the Obama administration will have a hard time convincing Syrians and others that its intentions in supporting the armed opposition are actually humanitarian. Indeed, the intentions of Western governments, particularly the United States, are highly suspect in the eyes of many Syrians, even among those opposed to Assad’s dictatorship. U.S. military intervention would simply play into the hands of the regime in Damascus, which has decades of experience manipulating the Syrian people's strong sense of nationalism to its benefit.
Irin Carmon - So far, much of the heated discussion about Angelina Jolie's brave Op-Ed in the New York Times has focused on her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene. It is not the only option available to women at risk, but for those who do want to consider following Jolie's path, there are structural barriers to even gaining the information. It's because one company, Myriad Genetics, owns the patent to the two genes that indicate an increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. You read that right: The genes themselves, not the procedure to test for them.
Alexander O'Riordan - In 2010, Human Rights Watch reported that aid to Ethiopia was being used in a political manner - as a reward to those that supported the ruling party and as coercion for those critical of the ruling elite. The report, while well received, resulted in almost no change to how donors programmed aid in Ethiopia. This was because a report detailing human rights abuses is about as effectual or surprising as raising attention to bulimia in the modelling industry. To get a public organisation to change or take stock of its complicity in wrecking lives, one should never face it head on.
Kristen Gwynnne - The rescue of three American women who were kidnapped and held in captivity for a decade, has captured the world's attention. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held hostage by Ariel Castro in his suburban Cleveland home under appalling conditions. But neighbours of the kidnapper argue that police ignored calls to investigate Castro's home after sightings of the women on several occasions over the years. On one occasion the women were spotted crawling naked on all fours, held on leashes, in Castro's backyard.
Watch - In their new book, "The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills", economist David Stuckler and physician Sanjay Basu examine the health impacts of austerity across the globe. The authors estimate there have been more than 10,000 additional suicides and up to a million extra cases of depression across Europe and the United States since governments started introducing austerity programs in the aftermath of the economic crisis. For example in Greece, where spending on public health has been slashed by 40 percent, HIV rates have jumped 200 percent and the country has seen its first malaria outbreak since the 1970s.
Watch - After centuries of Western dominance, the world's centre of economic and political weight is shifting eastward. In just 30 years, China has risen from long-standing poverty to being the second largest economy in the world -- faster than any other country in history. From angry farmers to weary migrant workers, powerful politicians and everyone in between, what China says and does, has become of undeniable importance to the entire world. This fascinating Al Jazeera documentary provides in an in-depth look at China's transition from Communism and the Cultural Revolution to state-controlled capitalism that has brought enormous wealth to some and stability to others, but also growing inequality within the country.
Watch - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges discusses what could mark the most significant government intrusion on the freedom of the press. America's Justice Department has acknowledged seizing the work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press. The phones targeted included the general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. Hedges says, "Talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they're terrified of going to jail."
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