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29 September 2015 |
The only people who regard Francis as radical are those who think popes should only attend to matters of personal conscience. Topics such as abortion and same-sex marriage are safe zones for comment because they don't concern the economic order, or threaten systems that generate wealth for the few. But Francis has smudged the line between faith and economics in a way that many conservatives find inconvenient.
27 September 2015 |
When refugees walked into Europe, away from distant distress sites, their presence made the global issue visceral for Europeans. Australia doesn't have asylum seekers walking en masse through ordinary streets. Our border is one of established hatred. 'Stop the boats' policy denies ordinary Australians their compassionate impulse, and creates a history that our children will face judgement upon. It denies humanity's collective memory after World War II.
24 September 2015 |
On a terrace just below the house is the beloved, late Ecuadorian artist Guayasamin's masterpiece, La Capillla del Hombre. A collection of his imposing artworks fills the space, works that ask the unanswerable question: why is man equally capable of such cruelty, and such compassion? It is a question that all good art should pose — a point that Australia's newly appointed Minister for the Arts would do well to remember.
21 September 2015 |
Canny politicians know it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. This must be clear to Obama in the wake of the nuclear deal reached with Iran. As he heralded the accord as a harbinger of a 'more hopeful world', Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a 'stunning historical mistake'. The deal is a result of 18 months of hard diplomatic negotiation, but for the naysayers it means Iran is off the leash.
27 August 2015 |
One would think after the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya that Australians would have learned to be just a little bit suspicious when the US Government suggests another Middle East war, or when a politician urges — as Bob Carr and Tony Blair have — that we have a 'moral obligation' to join the legally dubious US bombing mission in Syria.
25 August 2015 |
For almost twenty years, across the settlements and subsistence farms of Central Africa the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has preyed upon civilian populations with exceptional cruelty, emerging from the bush in small units to commit unspeakable atrocities. These days there is a common assumption that the LRA has been decimated and scattered and that its leader Joseph Kony is in hiding and probably ineffectual. But visiting activist Sister Angelique Namaika insists this optimistic assessment is misguided.
24 August 2015 |
Thailand's chronic political instability intensified with the bomb that exploded last week in the middle of a major Bangkok tourist district. With 20 dead and still counting, the event is a decisive rebuttal of the military dictatorship's promise to restore 'happiness' to Thailand. Because Thailand's public life revolves around the frail and ageing king and the military, a brighter future awaits the outcome of royal succession.
17 August 2015 |
The ongoing drama over leadership of the UK Labour Party is raising the possibility of further fractures in the politics of austerity, not just in Britain, but across Europe. The entire political edifice of British politics has shifted so far to the right that even a somewhat inoffensive endorsement of state ownership, anti-austerity politics and trade union support, alongside scrapping the UK's nuclear deterrent and questioning our continued membership in NATO, can appear dangerously radical.
05 August 2015 |
The Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers of 2012 said 'a regional cooperation and protection framework' should shape policymaking. Support for a regional solution also exists among academics and NGOs such as the Refugee Council of Australia. So what would such a framework look like? And when the time comes, will Australia be prepared to lead the way by increasing resettlement numbers?
23 July 2015 |
Iran’s nuclear deal with the UN represents a major breakthrough that could lead to more peace and stability in the region, despite what the critics say. Its policy towards Islamic State is actually much closer to that of the US and the UK than any other country in the region. Convergence of interest against this common enemy could open other doors of dialogue with the West and start a relationship that is no longer hostage to the nuclear issue.
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