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Lebanon: Second front in the Syria war

This weekend's blast at an army checkpoint on the outskirts of Hermel, claimed by Sunni jihadists, is just the latest in a series of vehicle-borne suicide attacks aimed at largely Shi'a areas in Lebanon. Last month a suicide bomber got through to Hermel and killed four people. And things could

Meet Indonesia's middle class (part 3): Votes and voices

This is the third in a four-part series on Indonesia's growing middle class. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. In Indonesia, the word for 'vote' is the same as the word for 'voice'. The urban middle class is vocal on Twitter but said to be apathetic at the ballot box, until the right candidate

The Australian economy: How does it compare?

The meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sydney next weekend provides an excuse to turn the spotlight inwards, towards the domestic economy. The IMF begins its new report on Australia this way: The Australian economy has performed well relative to many other

China's navy showing its inexperience on the open oceans

The US Navy has formed the view that the November 2013 incident between the American cruiser Cowpens and the Chinese carrier group arose directly from the PLA Navy's lack of experience with oceanic operations and the formal and informal rules which govern interactions between foreign navies. That's

What can be done about income inequality?

The income-inequality debate is an old one, but it’s getting renewed interest, most recently from President Obama in his State of the Union address, where he advocated raising the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to just over $10. He also spoke of the closely related issue of social mobility (a '

No circuit breaker in sight in East China Sea

In my concluding thoughts on a report compiling four workshop papers about tensions in the East China Sea, published by the Lowy Institute on 7 January, I note that it is impossible to predict the consequences of the vicious tit-for-tat cycle which Beijing and Tokyo have fallen into over the past 16

17 Corps: As China rises, India's army raises the stakes

Last year, after a long period of dithering and uncertainty, India’s cabinet finally gave the go-ahead for the raising of a massive new offensive army unit, the 80-90,000-strong China-facing 17 Corps (a corps comprises roughly three divisions). Its underlying purpose is to provide conventional

Phnom Penh violence: A turning point for Cambodia?

It's too early to say whether the violence resulting in at least four deaths that occurred in Phnom Penh on 3 January, as police and military dispersed protesters in the city's 'Freedom Park', represents a turning point in the long stand-off that has followed last July's disputed national elections

The infectious disease threat in Syria

Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the presence of wild poliovirus type one (WPV1) in 10 children under two years old in Deir al-Zour province in the Syria's east. These are the first reported cases of polio in the country since 1999. This is another sign of the collapse of

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