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March 2012

The Syrian Conflict raises some important issues, some would say contradictions, in how the West conceptualises democratic transition.

The Assad regime has committed to holding a referendum on Article 8 of the Syrian Constitution in two weeks. The article has heretofore prevented any genuine democratic dialogue, with Assad’s secular socialist Ba’ath party, representing an Alawate minority, defined as the “leading party in the society and the state”. It is thus assured a permanent majority in parliament.

The Eureka Youth League, a controversial white-separatist offshoot from the far-right Australia First Party, has recently received media attention surrounding its controversial policies that include putting an end to international students in Australia.

Placing emphasis on universities as a vital area for political influence to be exerted, the party credits this as the reason for “nationalist students to acquire direction and begin to plan for the campus fight-soon to begin”.

They came, they occupied, they were dispersed and now they are fighting legal cases on a score of fronts.

Occupy Sydney might not have fired public imagination like its counterparts in recession-ridden cities across the United States and Europe, but in its bid to highlight corporate greed, the movement has simultaneously raised troubling concerns about civil liberties, the right to protest and what constitutes the appropriate use of police powers.

Education funding. It’s all the rage these days. “Should we fund it?” “How should we fund it?” “What should we fund?”

During O-Week this year I participated in a political debate where the moderator, who was about to launch into the topic of education, added a caveat. She said “Education funding isn’t a particularly engaging issue so we’ll move through it pretty fast”. It ended up being the most popular topic of the debate and the one with most questions from the audience.

The proposed sale of Arc retail stores is a decision which will have worrying consequences. Arc's primary responsibility is to provide assistance and services for the students of UNSW. This not only means giving preference to student affordability over profits, but also means standing up

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Gina Rinehart announced today her intention to acqure all remaining shares in Fairfax Ltd, giving her effective editorial control over the Sydney Morning Herald and the Financial Review.

In a decision that surprised many media experts, but not several psychologists who’ve been tracking Rinehart for years, it was announced the Herald would immediately cease publishing in its current form and would be revived as a news and entertainment outlet where political opinions would be published exclusively in rhyming couplets.