INTERNATIONAL


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Respect and tranquility in a Japanese tea ceremony

8 Comments
18 June 2017 | Penny Garnsworthy

Tea ceremonyIn 15th Century Japan a young man named Murata Shukou, who was studying for the priesthood, began to practice Zen philosophy. His teacher explained that the spirit of Zen was also present in the practice of tea-making, so Shukou began a journey of discovery into making and serving tea. There are almost 40 steps involved in this ancient ritual; time stops and I am mesmerised by the rhythm and the silence, as if I am separated from the world and nought exists save for the movement.


The forgotten people of the Flint water crisis

7 Comments
18 June 2017 | Cristy Clark

Flint bottled brown waterLast Wednesday, five Michigan officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the unfolding health crisis in Flint, Michigan - a crisis that has included at least 12 deaths from Legionnaires' disease, in addition to the possible lead poisoning of a whole population. The people of Flint were aware that something was wrong from the moment their water was switched over to the Flint river in April 2014. They just couldn't get anyone to listen.


Lessons for ALP in UK Labour fightback

17 Comments
08 June 2017 | Jeff Sparrow

Teresa May totters while Jeremy Corbyn smiles onWhen Corbyn invoked the many against the few, he did so while advocating free education, the renationalisation of utilities and a break from the US alliance. By contrast, Blair coined the phrase in a speech where he urged listeners to put behind them 'the bitter political struggles of left and right that have torn our country apart for too many decades. Many of these conflicts have no relevance whatsoever to the modern world - public versus private, bosses versus workers, middle class versus working class.' We all know which version sits closer to Shorten's heart.


Je Suis Tehran

1 Comment
07 June 2017 | Justin Glyn

Iran parliamentThe unprecedented attacks by Daesh in Iran in which at least 12 people were killed and 39 injured come at an incredibly sensitive time for all countries in the Middle East. What is often obscured by commentators is that much of the present violence in the Middle East is political, not religious, even though religious labels are used as a shorthand for the competing blocs (in much the same way as 'Catholic' and 'Protestant' were used during the Troubles in Northern Ireland).


Assange detention is far from over

7 Comments
21 May 2017 | Binoy Kampmark

Julian AssangeThe European Union, according to Assange, has been captivated by an unhealthy interest in indefinite detention: 'There is no time limit that someone can be detained without charge. That is not how we expect a civilised state to behave.' Prematurely, tabloid press and outlets were wondering if the latest developments meant the end of the drama. A statement from the Metropolitan Police dispelled any doubts about Assange's plight, should he wish to leave his narrow digs in Knightsbridge.


Mexican journalists say no to silence and yes to death

2 Comments
21 May 2017 | Ann Deslandes

Vigil for Javier ValdezLast Tuesday night in Mexico City I headed to a bar with some press colleagues. It was late and the bar was lit with candles for mood lighting. As we sat down to order drinks my friend Joan took the candle in front of her and said, 'I'll hold onto this for the next journalist to be murdered.' We had been at a vigil to mourn the murder of journalist Javier Valdez and to protest the ever-escalating number of journalist murders in the country in a legal and political climate of almost total impunity.


Anti-Muslim laptop ban won't make us more secure

13 Comments
17 May 2017 | Catherine Marshall

Person using laptop on a planeAustralia should think carefully about adopting a ban that singles out Muslim majority countries under the guise of keeping its citizens safe. While it might make sense to ban potential bomb-carrying devices on flights from those countries where terrorist groups tend to be based, in reality it negatively profiles these countries and, more oppressively, the people who come from them. This is precisely the kind of dog whistle politics the likes of Trump and Hanson have engaged in.


Egypt and Ethiopia river wars be dammed

2 Comments
15 May 2017 | Tuhimi Akebet

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance DamThe building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile by a major Italian construction company remains a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt. Egypt sees the Nile as its sole source for the survival of its population and, historically, has seen itself as its sole natural guardian. Ethiopia argued in response, on the basis of unseen studies, that there would be no reduction of water downstream. Both are mindful of the disastrous war they waged against each other early in the 19th century.


Ahok is innocent and Indonesia needs him

10 Comments
14 May 2017 | Pat Walsh

Basuki Tjahaja PurnamaDid he denounce Islam as 'evil' like the American evangelist Franklin Graham? Did he publicly denounce God as 'stupid' like Stephen Fry? On the contrary. Ahok is deeply respectful of Islam and has many Muslim supporters. The affair has done a serious disservice to Indonesia, presenting it as fanatical, racist and sectarian. While these perceptions are unfair, the affair also reveals some aspects of contemporary Indonesia that are obscured by Canberra's often lavish praise of our important neighbour.


Putting a face to the effects of Australia's aid freeze

4 Comments
11 May 2017 | David Holdcroft

African refugee studyingAlain is one of around 11,000 people living in this particular camp in the south of Zimbabwe. It seems an unlikely location to talk of the freeze on funding for Australian foreign aid announced in the budget, but it is in places like these, unseen and therefore unknown by the Australian population, that the effects are often felt. Alain is lucky: the camp where he lives has good education. Worldwide however, only 50 per cent of children in forced migrant situations will attend primary school, 22 per cent secondary and a paltry 1 per cent any institution of higher learning.


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