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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.
21 February 2017 |
We are treated at length to Rodrigues' reflections upon the face of Christ, yet the beautiful inculturated image 'Madonna of the Snows' passes us quickly by. There are haunting local hymns yet the missionaries speak halting Japanese. The local church is served by a respected un-ordained head, who leads his fellow villagers in prayer and good works. The survival of the Japanese Catholic community rested on the feeble, faith-filled shoulders of the local women and men who kept praying even unto death.
15 February 2017 |
Sweden's feminist Trade Minister Ann Linde has come under sharp criticism from some Iranian women's rights activists after she and her female colleagues wore hijab and long coats in their meetings with the Iranian president and other delegations in Tehran. Later Linde maintained she did not want to violate the law in Iran where it has been mandatory for women to wear headdress since 1979. This flies in the face of the Swedish government's position on women's rights.
09 February 2017 |
Much commentary on Trump's victory has veered between two explanations: either there is large proportion of the electorate with 'deplorable' attitudes to women and minorities; or economic dislocation has produced an angry white working class eager to punish political elites. These explanations are not mutually exclusive. The willingness to ignore or welcome Trump's misogyny is a symptom of the undermining of a deep sense of masculinity that, for some men, is their primary identity.
01 February 2017 |
The right wingers who support stripping people of their visas, and separating families in the process, have a point when they say that the US government is not beginning a new persecution, but merely continuing and deepening the persecutions of their predecessors. While previous administrations were more subtle in their actions than Trump's, it is undoubtedly true that the nationals now picked for sanction were those who were already targeted for visa penalties in the Obama years.
31 January 2017 |
The shape Trump's presidency is beginning to be discernible. The likely deepening of inequality, the disregard for universal human rights and for the international and national responsibilities that flow from them, the contempt for the environment and for evidence based research, and the debasement of political speech promise a more divided society in a more divided world. In such a noisy and staccato atmosphere the beginnings of an appropriate response lie in not responding to every tweet.
27 January 2017 |
Writing in the New York Times, renowned Mexican historian Enrique Krauze splendidly summed up the US conduct toward his country. 'For Mexico, the United States has been a difficult neighbour, sometimes violent, almost always arrogant, almost never respectful, rarely cooperative,' Krauze wrote. Donald Trump is the embodiment of all these. Trump has taken the US disrespect towards its Spanish-speaking neighbour to a level even Mexicans - a resigned bunch - won't put up with any longer.
24 January 2017 |
No-one doubted Trump's ascendancy would deeply fracture the world as we know it. But few of us could have anticipated the swiftness with which his orders would impact some of the world's most disadvantaged citizens: vulnerable, impoverished women. With just one signature, the newly-installed president snatched from these women access to services that are essential to their physical and mental wellbeing and their economic prospects - and, in so doing, endangering countless lives.
23 January 2017 |
I can understand the Trump phenomenon. Hard-working Americans and many Australians are blaming various minorities as responsible for their decline. They are being blinded to the real culprits: our own governments and their wealthy backers. Juvenal's 'bread and circuses', designed to keep the people docile and distracted in Ancient Rome, have been updated to Maccas and manufactured news. And hatred. Are we so easily manipulated? Is the American model the future Australia wants for itself?
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