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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.
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.
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