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Orlando shooting brings hate to its natural conclusion

14 June 2016 | Fatima Measham

Orlando shooter Omar Mateen stands over the bodies of his victims which are sheathed in rainbow flags, and objects that they were 'behaving imorrally'. Cartoon by Fiona KatauskasAt the epicentre of all this is a place where young, queer men and women had felt safe and free to be themselves. The dead are almost all black, brown, gay and working class. If, as Dr Cornel West has often said, justice is what love looks like in public, then injustice must be what hate looks like, and there is perhaps no greater injustice than murder. Mass murder is hatred realised in full grotesque proportion. This means is that the little things we do to validate hatred are not inconsequential.

Pugilist-poet Ali's race legacy still packs a punch

07 June 2016 | Fatima Measham

Muhammad Ali fightingThe contest over Ali began even as news spread of his passing. His legend straddles the violence of his sport and the violence in which he refused to participate. Boxing is brutal but it has rules and finite duration. In war, there are no rules and no one wins. Ali recognised a larger violence, chose his enemies, and reimagined bravery. Attempts to sublimate this legacy - such as comments about him 'transcending' race - resemble the appropriation of Martin Luther King Jr by conservatives.

Calculated risks, incalculable rewards in India

26 May 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Maha Kumbh MelaIn 2013 I attended an event so exclusive, so unique, it wouldn't happen again for another 144 years. It was the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, where, over a six-week period, an estimated 120 million Hindu pilgrims converged on the banks of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Sarasweti Rivers in order to perform puja, or the cleansing of their sins. If we're open to what travel seeks to teach us, we'll gain from it the most superior of educations, and the most profound lessons in humility.

A righteous sermon about the haves and have-nots

22 May 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Man in suit holding cashIn America, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, received a salary of more than $40 million in 2012. He is apparently a devout Christian, so I wonder whether he ever worries about Matthew chapter 19, verse 24: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the GDP of India. In contrast, vast numbers of their fellow citizens have less than $1000 in their savings and cheque accounts combined.

New Canadian and US laws revive euthanasia debate

16 May 2016 | Frank Brennan

Window in a dark roomOnce the state legislates to permit assistance with the suicide of a dying, suffering, mentally competent person, the door could well be opened to those who agitate a right to kill and not just a liberty to assist with suicide, and that door could be pushed open onto a class of patients which ultimately will include those who are not dying at all That door is now wide open in Belgium and the Netherlands, while he Canadian Parliament is trying to place appropriate limits. I'm for keeping that door firmly shut.

Reconciling with president-elect Duterte

12 May 2016 | Fatima Measham

DuterteThe campaign left me bewildered. The things Duterte represents - vigilantism, unilateralism and violence - aren't these the same things that Filipino human rights activists had fought against? Is this now the preferred template for imposing order? I parsed post after post on social media, trying to working out what I was missing. For months I asked myself, what the hell went wrong? It is only lately that I'm beginning to accept that I got the wrong end of the question. What went wrong? Everything.

Face to face with the dark side of paradise

28 April 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Samoa cyclone skyIt can be a dangerous thing, travelling to paradise. Those turquoise lagoons and white beaches and lush hills often conceal a more sinister side, a Mr Hyde to the brochures' bright-and-shiny Dr Jekyll. So it was on Samoa this week, when Cyclone Amos skirted by. We were told it was headed for Samoa's main island, Upolu, where we were staying. Still, we felt calm, for there wasn't a breath of wind in the sky. Later, at the height of it, I stood up in the dark, opened the curtains and looked outside.

Paying for stopping the boats

28 April 2016 | Kerry Murphy

xxxxxThis week we learnt that the human rights protection for asylum seekers in our former colony Papua New Guinea are more protected by the PNG constitution than they would be in Australia. The PNG government has quickly moved not to change the law and constitution, but to make arrangements to close the centre and ask Australia to take back the asylum seekers. Already PNG lawyers are talking about claims for compensation for the unlawful detention, and rightly so.

Cheque book solution on asylum is unconstitutional

27 April 2016 | Frank Brennan

Placard reads Close Australian Concentration CampsA bench of five justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in Papua New Guinea, has unanimously ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is unconstitutional. Yet again, Australia has been complicit in its Pacific neighbours (PNG and Nauru) prostituting their Constitutions and undermining the rule of law in exchange for a fistful of dollars, with hapless asylum seekers, most of whom are ultimately proved to be refugees, being left to languish.

Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

18 April 2016 | Gillian Bouras

The Power and the Glory by Graham GreenPope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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