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Bruce Shapiro; WA rock art; Bhutan's transition to modernity

April 29th, 2015

Episode 177 of 662 episodes

This week Bruce Shapiro discusses the death penalty, following the execution today of two members of the Bali Nine and tells us there are currently 31 foreign nationals on death row in America. The riots in Baltimore that broke out following the funeral of an African American man in police custody, point at inequality of power and a police force acting with impunity in that city. The West Australian Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 has a poor record of protecting Aboriginal heritage. Only in rare cases has a determined group of Aboriginal people been able to use it to prevent damage to their heritage. Now, a review of the Act, which began in May 2011, could see it weakened even more. In a submission on the proposed amended bill, filed during the government's eight-week consultation period, Aboriginal MLA Ben Wyatt wrote: 'It is extraordinary that the government's proposed amendments actually contemplate a reduced involvement for Aboriginal people than the original Act drafted in 1972.' Sandwiched between India and China, the Kingdom of Bhutan is one of the most beautiful and most landlocked countries in the world. Most famous for its ranking as the happiest country in Asia, Bhutan’s leader prefers to measure his country’s gross national happiness, instead of gross domestic product. But is there a dark side? Dr Bunty Avieson lived there for over 12 months helping to establish the country’s first independent newspaper and got to see the other side of this hitherto unknown nation. In 2008, this country of just over 700,000 made the transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional one, holding its first elections. The people of Bhutan have struggled with the need to ask hard questions of their leaders when deference to authority has been the tradition. Issues such as high levels of domestic violence, corruption and alcoholism were first raised when newspapers start to write and inform citizens about this. It is quickly embracing new technology, yet the country remains full of mystical, tantric rites, where the King is a deity and yogis still retreat into caves. So how will the modernity affect Bhutan?

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