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Signs that East Ukraine has averted mass human tragedy

10 August 2014 | Tony Kevin

On Sunday morning Australian time, we learned that the destructive civil war raging in East Ukraine seemed to be drawing to a close, essentially on Kiev’s terms. It appears that the tense test of wills between Russia and the West generated by the crisis, which briefly last week risked a wider war, has ended in a tacit backdown by Moscow.  

Abbott’s temporary reprieve for hate speech prohibition

07 August 2014 | Moira Rayner

Quite rightly the Section 18C repeal bill was seen to remove all limits on ‘freedom of speech’ without regard to the vulnerability of those targeted. Andrew Bolt was infuriated, Senator Brandis lost face and his new Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson was ‘disturbed’ by the bill being shelved. But the PM is a pragmatist.

Mixed messages undermine western solidarity with Gaza

05 August 2014 | Raff Piccolo

Palestine solidarity painted faceThere are messages of support for Palestinians suffering in Gaza. But for every 'condemnation' that is directed at Israel by the President of the United States, the same speech always refers to the 'inherent right of Israel to defend itself'. However well intentioned, the sentiments are being used by Israel to justify all its actions in Gaza.

Low fat food products are a con

04 August 2014 | Mike Foale

Book cover 'The Big Fat Surprise'The medical researcher who developed the saturated fat theory was Ancel Keys, who had cherry-picked data. He achieved celebrity status in the media through aggressive promotion of his theory. Credible science journals have lately been publishing robust reports that saturated fat is not implicated in heart disease, much to the chagrin of manufacturers of low fat processed food products. 

Christians and Muslims exchange Middle East kindness

31 July 2014 | Ruby Hamad

Al Jazeera article headline 'Muslims join Christians in declaring 'I am Iraqi, I am Christian''As an Arab-Australian it's difficult to watch the events in Syria, Iraq and Gaza without a sense of guilt and shame. To outside eyes, it must appear that the Middle East is driven by hatred and bloodlust. In fact there is a long history of persecuted members of one Middle Eastern faith finding safety in the places of worship of those that are often cast as their enemies. This is the Middle East, at once unconscionably cruel and unbearably kind.

Ukraine endgame?

30 July 2014 | Tony Kevin

Conflict in UkraineThe shooting down of MH17 by insurgent anti-aircraft missiles has now been swallowed up in the wider drama of the fierce civil war raging in Ukraine's pro-Russian eastern region. On 24 July, the International Committee of the Red Cross proclaimed Ukraine to be in a state of civil war, appealing to all those involved to respect the humanitarian rules of war or face later indictment as war criminals. The burning question now is, what will Putin's Russia do?

What will survive of us is love

29 July 2014 | Gillian Bouras

Detail of Arundel Tomb in Chichester CathedralSo there the marble figures lie, grey and blurred, and with an infinite capacity, I think, to touch the heart. The tomb was radical for its time, in the sense that Richard had decreed that his effigy should not be higher than Eleanor's; her figure also appears to lean towards his, and most moving of all, Richard's has one gauntlet removed, so that his bare hand holds that of his wife. Her feet rest on a little pet dog, his on a small lion.

Indonesia's new paradigm must include the past

28 July 2014 | Pat Walsh

Jokowi meets his volunteers at Proclamation Monument in JakartaThe day after the result of Indonesia's presidential election was announced, I joined crowds of excited Indonesians in central Jakarta to celebrate Jokowi's election as Indonesia's seventh president. Did you see the rainbow? asked a supporter. I hadn't, but even if the heavens had opened and soaked everybody to the skin, it would have been taken as another sign that God too had voted for Jokowi.

Blood, tears and ethics in Gaza

24 July 2014 | Matthew Beard

ShellsThis week in the Wall Street Journal, Thane Rosenbaum argued that Palestinian adults are, as a whole, legitimate targets of attack because they were involved in electing Hamas to power eight years ago. There is no need for more blood or tears in Gaza, but there is a strong case to be made for higher ethical standards. Based on the manner in which it is presently being conducted, this war is unjust on both sides.

Dubious heroes of Wikipedia

22 July 2014 | Philip Harvey

Robots churning out Wikipedia entriesSwedish physicist Sverker Johansson has reportedly written over 2.7 million articles on Wikipedia since 2001, at an average of 10,000 articles a day. Phil Parker is purported to be the most published author in history, successfully publishing over 85,000 physical books, each of which takes less than an hour to 'write' — 'patented algorithms enable computers to do all the heavy lifting'. But the real work begins after they have finished.

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