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06 April 2017 |
The pictures coming out of Khan Sheikhoun are horrific. Children foaming at the mouth, some with terrible head wounds. No wonder the reaction of the world has been outrage. 'Assad must go' has been revived as a catchphrase in the West. We are right to be appalled. Yet several features about the reported sarin attack in Syria's Idlib Governorate should give pause in the current rush to judgment. Firstly, while you wouldn't know it from much of the media, the facts themselves are contested.
29 March 2017 |
This week, Trump signed the Energy Independence executive order, which amounts to open slather for oil drilling and coal companies. It turns off policy settings made under Obama, including a moratorium on coal leases on federal land and methane emissions limits in oil and gas production. It's a colossal setback, though it could play well in coal country. While Trump may declare he is '(cancelling) job-killing regulations', people will eventually find it is not emissions-related regulation that is killing jobs.
28 March 2017 |
In the past two weeks I've met a man who crossed the Andes on foot, horse, bicycle, car and even rollerblades. I've trekked with a mountain guide to a rocky outcrop upon which he was due to marry his fiancé the following weekend, before abseiling down it with her. I've stood in a forest with a woman who came here in the hope of finding the perfect plot of land. Landscapes have a profound effect on the traveller, but it's their inhabitants who evoke for us the soul of a place far more effectively.
27 March 2017 |
Some things are invisible until pointed out. Take the water tanks that pepper the rooves of buildings and homes in the West Bank. 'That's how you tell between Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements,' a friend points out. 'The Palestinian homes need water tanks because of restricted water supply from Israel, whereas the settlements don't.' Access to clean water is a fundamental human right, and the water situation in Palestine reveals a cruel privileging of one group over another.
27 March 2017 |
Life is back to normal a month after residents of Mamelodi in South Africa marched from on the Home Affairs offices in protest over criminality among immigrants. Now, there are calls for closer re-examination of the action, which many see as threatening peace in one of Africa's biggest economies. 'If drugs and crime were really the issues, it should have been billed as an anti-drugs, anti-crime march, not an anti-foreigner march,' said Johan Viljoen of Jesuit Refugee Service.
09 March 2017 |
Each day is met by the same reports: electoral interference has supposedly taken place, instigated by Russian, or at the very least outsourced Russian entities, in the elections of Europe and the United States. Such claims assert, not merely the reality of these claims, but the nature of their influence. Such a stance detracts from one fundamental point: that the manipulation of electoral systems has been, and remains, common fare, irrespective of the finger pointing at Moscow.
02 March 2017 |
An unread newspaper tumbles and breaks apart in the wind. A man sits alone on a park bench wondering what it would be like to hear children riding bicycles through the park. As darkness settles the city's workers commence their long journeys home. Not even the music of the street performers is heard anymore. They were all relocated. Car engines hum and airplanes roar. Somehow the city ecosystem continues despite the investment predators having eaten up all other types of life.
01 March 2017 |
Ecuadoreans will head back to the polls on 2 April after this month's presidential election didn't come up with an outright winner. Against all projections Socialist Lenin Moreno, who served as Rafael Correa's vice president from 2007 to 2013, did very well. While he fell short of winning, there is a sense that the Ecuadorean 21st century socialism, an economic and political model instigated by Correa, is still popular; and in this Andean country of 15 million the majority are poor.
23 February 2017 |
This week the UN announced that more than 20 million people across four African countries face starvation in the coming months. As the World Food Program struggles to feed the starving, they are also reminding people that where there is great need in the world, there is often great waste. In Australia, the Department of Environment and Energy estimates food waste is costing households $8 billion every year. This is twice what the UN predicts it needs to cease a famine in four nations.
23 February 2017 |
To many in the West, we are living in a time of despair, an era of nihilism and meaninglessness, signified by growing violence, environment degradation and, most importantly, political chaos. This combination of events, and the sense of hopelessness that accompanies them, can easily be seen as markers of doom, a sign that the era of Western culture is in terminal decline. But it's also possible to interpret them as indicators of the malaise that marks the very peak of life.
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