Vol 27 No 18

10 September 2017

 Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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MEDIA

'Both sides' journalism betrays the public interest

12 Comments
20 September 2017 | Ruby Hamad

Censorship muralIn a liberal democracy, the media's most essential function is to serve the public interest. This includes providing information so that the public can make informed decisions. In order to do so, journalists must decide what is in the public interest and why. 'Balanced' coverage of, for example, damaging aspects of the marriage equality No campaign does not fit these criteria.


AUSTRALIA

Beware the business of same-sex marriage

8 Comments
19 September 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Rainbow posterSome quick research can reveal whether a company has a good track record with LGBTI and other human rights. Do they donate to LGBTI charities? Do they have an inclusion and diversity policy on their website? It doesn't benefit equality in the long run if we allow businesses to brand themselves pro-same sex marriage when their support for human rights runs only as deep as a rainbow poster.


RELIGION

Uncontrollable Irma and Fr John George

18 Comments
19 September 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Hurricane IrmaI was reminded of the importance of the uncontrollable by the recent death of Fr John George, a Sydney priest who daily submitted comments on our Eureka Street articles, some of which we published. Though no Hurricane Irma, the literary Fr George, the only one whom we knew, was nevertheless easily seen as terrifying and fascinating. Our efforts to control George reminded us of how limited is our capacity to control and how, as we control, we can turn people into ciphers and threats to be dealt with.


ENVIRONMENT

An interplanetary future favours the wealthy

7 Comments
18 September 2017 | Francine Crimmins

CassiniIn a ball of fire, Cassini's 20-year journey across the solar system came to an abrupt finale last week. The spacecraft's odyssey soon revealed not 12 but 62 moons orbiting the gas giant. The most significant of these is Titan, which harbours large quantities of liquid water, considered to be essential to the existence of life. Meanwhile back on Earth ...


INTERNATIONAL

What we think we know about the Syrian war

7 Comments
18 September 2017 | Justin Glyn

Deir ez-ZorYou could be forgiven for never having heard of Deir ez-Zor. There is virtually no mention of it in the Western press, except by British journalist Robert Fisk. Yet this ancient Syrian city of just over 200,000 people on the banks of the Euphrates is the site of what looks to be the final defeat of the dream of ISIS of creating an ethnically cleansed, sectarian caliphate in Syria and Iraq.


MEDIA

The sad history of Australian media reform

4 Comments
18 September 2017 | Andrew Dodd

Nick XenophonThe big media players eventually get what they want by wearing down the government of the day and latching on to whatever opportunity comes their way. This month the government handed them the reform they've long craved while Xenophon attempted to win some concessions. We can assume Australia's media market will now become more concentrated. What we don't know is whether Xenophon's trade offs will do enough to protect public interest journalism and media diversity.


INTERNATIONAL

Letter from Yangon

2 Comments
18 September 2017 | Peta Fresco

YangonMuch has been reported on the plight of the Rohingya in Rakhine state in Myanmar's west, where violence has seen more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims cross into Bangladesh. Elsewhere in the country, local villagers continue to suffer the effects of a four cuts strategy, and are targeted if they are suspected of helping ethnic armies. In the country's north, aid has been slow to reach 20,000 Kachin villagers living in former gambling dens and warehouses along the China border.


CARTOON

Unfair and balanced

5 Comments
18 September 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


INTERNATIONAL

Is Medicare-for-all an idea whose time has come?

1 Comment
17 September 2017 | Lesley Russell

Bernie SandersMedicare-for-all is best seen as aspirational: it is shorthand for policy ideals and papers over political realities. With Republicans in control of Congress, there is obviously no immediate chance of Sanders's bill becoming law any time soon. But with Republicans and the President viewed as ineffectual in implementing their healthcare commitments and uncaring about voters' concerns, it is advantageous for Democrats to be seen to have solutions to the problems that confront their constituents.


ARTS AND CULTURE

On the side of darkness, infinity

1 Comment
17 September 2017 | N. N. Trakakis

Light globesWe do not know what we want. And we do not want what we know. Like shadows hanging in the air, their threads of reality unravelling, absenting themselves from the world. She said time erases life. He said let's be timeless. She said it would be dark. He said he hated daylight. She said it would be lonely. He said he prostituted his mind talking to people. She said he is mad. He said may God preserve him from sanity. She said: God will. And God did.


Life lessons from the Abuja-Keffi expressway

1 Comment
16 September 2017 | David Ishaya Osu

Cartoon by Chris JohnstonOn 12 May 1996, I was knocked down by a car, along the Abuja-Keffi expressway in Nigeria. I was five years old, a small boy whose fingers almost always hung in my mama's. Nigerians call this 'mummy's handbag'. But I was impatient; I wanted to be the first to cross. The things that followed were: boom! Screeches, shouts of 'Jesus', etc. I woke up in the midst of people praying for me at the nearby hospital.


RELIGION

Raising girls in an unjust world

8 Comments
14 September 2017 | Rachel Woodlock

Girl faces woodsAs the mum of a 13 year old daughter, I'm trying to prepare her for adulthood in a world that will, at times, judge her for being female. She's at the beginning of her adolescent journey, when the future seems to hold so much promise but also new dangers. The one that gives me pause, in the odd moment when I allow myself to think about it, is what I can tell her about protecting herself from bad men who might want to harm her, without scaring her into believing all men are potential rapists.


ENVIRONMENT

Electric carmaggedon

6 Comments
13 September 2017 | Greg Foyster

Cartoon by Greg FoysterThere are lots of reasons why China wants to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles. It desperately needs to curb air pollution, which the World Health Organization estimates kills more than a million of its citizens each year. It also wants to reduce dependence on imported oil, and help meet climate change targets. Most crucial, however, is China's intention to dominate the global market for electric vehicles and the technology that powers them, lithium-ion batteries.


ARTS AND CULTURE

Sidelining diversity in Stephen King's IT

1 Comment
13 September 2017 | Tim Kroenert

Losers Club in ITWhen it comes to creative license, a necessity when adapting a novel of the scope of IT, every decision comes with costs and benefits. In an era where creators of popular entertainment are increasingly, and rightly, held to account over matters of representation, it is strange and disappointing that decisions would be made where the cost is to reduce a major, richly written character to a mere side note, and in so doing to diminish diversity, in a story that already sorely lacks it.


Madness and poetry in 1960s Australia

14 Comments
13 September 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

The Green Bell
by Paula KeoghKeogh's first onset of madness and loss of identity came with Gilroy's death in a psychiatric institution after intensive, probably reckless, treatment by shock therapy and drugs. Both young women were then in the early years of their university course. The encompassing Catholic framework of meaning taken for granted during childhood fell away under their analytical questioning, and their belief in rationality was tested by the violent social changes of 1968.


The life of a travel writer is all in the story

2 Comments
12 September 2017 | Catherine Marshall

Siberia's northern Yamal PeninsulaThe Nenet and Russian drivers in our convoy surveyed the scene nonchalantly. They smoked cigarettes and conversed. One of them waded into the water, ice-cold even though it was summer. Their jagged, strident Russian dialect swirled around us in an incomprehensible fog. What was going on? Would we make it across? Were we doomed? I wasn't concerned about any of these things. Indeed, I had never felt so relaxed in my life.


AUSTRALIA

PTSD the price of keeping the peace

4 Comments
11 September 2017 | Kate Mani

Dr Rosalind HearderThis Thursday will mark 70 years of Australian peacekeeping with a commemorative service and dedication of a new peacekeeping memorial. Dr Rosalind Hearder believes stereotypical perceptions of war and peace can leave Australians with a misguided understanding of peacekeeping. 'It's not the same experience as combat. But that doesn't mean it is easier. The long-term effects can still be damaging.'


CARTOON

For better, for worse

2 Comments
11 September 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


RELIGION

Cultural appropriation a year after Shriver furore

5 Comments
11 September 2017 | Yen-Rong Wong

Lionel ShriverA little over a year ago, Lionel Shriver delivered the opening address at the Brisbane Writers Festival, deriding political correctness and defending the practice of cultural appropriation by white writers. This year's festival didn't attract real controversy, but the memory of last year still lingered, and it's clear that parts of that mentality live on.


ARTS AND CULTURE

Don't jumble your words: Elegy for Peter Gebhardt

3 Comments
10 September 2017 | Dougal Hurley and Peter Gebhardt

Peter GebhardtBelief brings solitary repose, no more mimicking gallant pens, poaching pips from wiser minds. Know the moment, listen and find the ephemeral and the luminous born and nurtured in reciprocity.


RELIGION

Church democracy and the 2020 Plenary Council

31 Comments
10 September 2017 | John Warhurst

Raised handsThere is a lot of big talk by Australian Catholic church leaders about the forthcoming 2020 Plenary Council, but remarkable vagueness about its likely shape. Now that the first of the consultation sessions about the council has occurred in Sydney, resolving the nature of the event becomes a matter of some urgency. Otherwise the council runs the risk of eventually becoming a huge disappointment.


INTERNATIONAL

The cost of living in the kingdom of fear

17 Comments
07 September 2017 | Justin Glyn

Chris Johnston cartoonFranklin Delano Roosevelt famously said that 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.' From the roots of ISIS to Russiagate to North Korea to border control in Australia, current trends both international and at home bear this out.


ARTS AND CULTURE

A Romantic view of 'darkling' modern world

2 Comments
06 September 2017 | Brian Matthews

Matthew ArnoldBorn a few months after Shelley drowned and desperate to understand the living Nature the Romantics had known, Matthew Arnold too found the natural world had gone silent. Where Wordsworth had heard 'strange utterance [in] the loud dry wind' and 'the sky seemed not a sky / Of earth - and with what motion moved the clouds', Arnold sadly concluded that 'the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light ...'