Vol 21 No 24

05 December 2011


 

  • AUSTRALIA

    Rights for kids at Christmas

    • John Falzon
    • 21 December 2011
    7 Comments

    Democracy has been described as 'the intrusion of the Excluded into the socio-political space'. Children and young people figure prominently among the excluded in our society. When you start to wonder why, you begin to re-evaluate the strength of your democracy.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    When my kids believed in Santa and God

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 21 December 2011
    5 Comments

    My daughter, at seven, imagines a Barbie doll that does not exist, one that has 'a very cool gun and real lipstick'. My son, at five, asks for 'a Jeep, a hot air balloon and real false teeth'. These preserved Christmas lists record my children's growth more accurately than their physical measurements.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The beer jingle that saved Christmas

    • Brian Doyle
    • 21 December 2011
    1 Comment

    A hickory tree peed his pants. A striped bass assaulted an eggplant. A teacher cursed in Gaelic into her mic. Then my kid brother, Tommy, spontaneously stepped forward and sang that jingle. Some moments are unforgettable for reasons we can't articulate. My dad says he'll savour that one on his deathbed. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Christmas challenge for a nonviolent Australia

    • John Dear
    • 21 December 2011
    9 Comments

    The nonviolent Jesus was born into abject poverty to homeless refugees on the outskirts of a brutal empire. Two thousand years later, the world remains stuck in the same cycle. America's military presence in Australia could mark the beginning of the end for that hallowed land.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    War on terror is beyond the joke

    • Justin Glyn
    • 20 December 2011
    4 Comments

    The US Congress' proposals to allow indefinite military detention of its citizens without charge or trial, and America's ongoing use of unmanned attack drones to assassinate opponents, highlight anew the need for clear thinking when it comes to that much abused term, 'war'.

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  • CARTOON

    North Korea's new Kim

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 20 December 2011

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  • AUSTRALIA

    North Korea's new season of hope

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 20 December 2011
    2 Comments

    He presided over a starving nation, created an unstable nuclear state, and terrified his neighbours. But the death of Kim Jong-il should cause neither terror nor concern as much as the experts would have it.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Giving ice-cream to strangers

    • Phoebe Marsh
    • 20 December 2011
    3 Comments

    I spied a boy in school uniform. 'These ice-creams are about to melt, would you like one?' He looked up from his phone, shook his head and grunted. I tried a woman nearby: 'They'll only go to waste!' 'No thank you.' I was the weirdo on the platform offering sweets to strangers. It was not a good look.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Feast of the fantastic

    • Peter Gebhardt
    • 19 December 2011

    This place is bigger than any kingdom. It opens out, boundary-less, to everyone everywhere. It doesn't matter how many come, and the skateboarders will always get a seat at the banquet, where they will taste the wine and food, learn to sing with the host and rejoice in his good.

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  • RELIGION

    Missing Christopher Hitchens

    • Frank Brennan
    • 19 December 2011
    25 Comments

    We'll miss his intellectual rigour, self-deprecating humour, unpredictable political perspectives, unforgiving character evaluations, and iconoclastic appetite for scrutiny and transparency — even those of us appalled by his vicious and discriminatory anti-religious bigotry. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't stoop to stupid policy over boat tragedy

    • Aloysious Mowe
    • 19 December 2011
    10 Comments

    Of course we want people to stop making the hazardous boat journey to Christmas Island, but tow-backs and off-shore processing are immoral and stupid. Australia must engage with others in the region to find ways to ensure people are not driven to make desperate journeys.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Witnessing Washi's wrath and aftermath

    • Fatima Measham
    • 18 December 2011

    As we drove downtown, we saw people huddling on street corners, covered in mud and looking for shelter. Water shortages and power cuts further disrupted this city of half a million. Mortuaries could not even wash the mud off dead children so they could be quickly identified by parents.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Questions surround latest asylum seeker boat disaster

    • Tony Kevin
    • 18 December 2011
    20 Comments

    The latest tragedy comes ten years after SIEV X and a year after the Christmas Island shipwreck. It will be exploited by both Gillard and Abbott to further their border protection policies. Questions surround the disaster that the Australian Government would prefer not be asked.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Bill Gates shows us how to give

    • Michael Mullins
    • 18 December 2011
    4 Comments

    The main characteristic of giving is that it is an act of free will that comes from the heart. Yet Christmas gift-giving is often the product of a perceived need to conform to expectations. Bill Gates' decision to give away more than a third of his wealth is the reverse of this.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Shocking scenes from a teen pregnancy

    • Madeleine Hamilton
    • 15 December 2011
    23 Comments

    When she had her first baby at 18, her neighbour asked if she was trying to make a buck from the baby bonus. Given the liberalisation of abortion laws, pregnant teens are accused of deliberately ruining their lives or ripping off the public purse if they choose to continue their pregnancies.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Life lessons on the Thai-Burma border

    • Duncan Maclaren
    • 15 December 2011
    2 Comments

    Jimmy was among the quietest of the refugee students we taught. He is now a leader with a 'backpack' medical organisation whose members take medicines into the areas where 'internally displaced persons' are found. He risks his life every day since the jungle is awash with Burmese soldiers.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Savaging sex and religion

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 14 December 2011
    4 Comments

    Three teenagers are lured into the midst of a demented cult waging a brutal crusade against society's sexual profligacy; the Westboro Baptists re-imagined as violent extremists. This is not the first time questioning Catholic filmmaker Kevin Smith has had a go at religion.

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  • MEDIA

    Julian Assange's clear and present danger

    • Tony Kevin
    • 14 December 2011
    29 Comments

    If Julian Assange is soon extradited from UK to Sweden, as now seems likely, he faces rendition to the US, and the prospect of a long prison sentence or even assassination. The Australian Government continues to do almost nothing to protect its besieged citizen. 

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  • CARTOON

    What Abbott, Gillard and Santa have in common

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 13 December 2011
    1 Comment

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    The truth about China the climate scapegoat

    • Sean McDonagh
    • 13 December 2011
    12 Comments

    Countries including the US, Russia and Japan refuse to sign any binding treaty to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions unless China does the same. Their simplistic argument that China is now the number one emitter in the world overlooks important data.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Confronting the beggar dilemma

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 13 December 2011
    10 Comments

    My father was disgusted by beggars. 'You know what that's all about? A bottle of metho to go with the boot polish.' These days I divide beggars into categories. The aged are in my in-group, and so are children. I give to amputees, but one day an 'amputee' got up and revealed himself to have two legs.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Learning to walk and to dance

    • Various
    • 12 December 2011
    2 Comments

    When I last saw you, still horizontal, interrogating the floor, you'd begun reversing Kafka — a slow transformation from beetle to vertical human. Powered by a new locomotion, you steer yourself towards the stereo; music erupts into your world, is taken entirely for granted.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Fraser and Whitlam's fruitful rivalry

    • John Menadue
    • 12 December 2011
    8 Comments

    Bitter rivals though they were, Fraser and Whitlam displayed unity on many issues. It is pertinent to consider how these political enemies contributed to creating a much better society. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott could learn much from their example.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The good journalist and the assassins

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 December 2011
    17 Comments

    In Australia free speech is understood as freedom from legal constraint. In the Bolt case, it was defended for commercial reasons. A better understanding of the cost of free speech can be seen in Russian journalist Alexander Minkin's description of an attempt to kill him.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The dark heart of a European Christmas

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 11 December 2011
    3 Comments

    The EU was a panacea for Europe's nationalist and imperial history. All hope was pinned on the euro as the saviour able to transcend internal differences. As Christmas approaches, the air feels fragile. Winter will be frugal. Death and disintegration are constantly on the European mind.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Teachers' uprising

    • Brian Matthews
    • 08 December 2011
    8 Comments

    'Matthews!' the headmaster called. I kept walking. 'Matthews!' I walked on. 'Mister Matthews!' I turned and said, 'Yes?' 'Did you not hear me?' 'I answer to Brian or Mister Matthews, nothing in between.' We were enacting our miniscule part in a process that would grow through the decade.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Save the world with salad

    • Ruby Hamad
    • 08 December 2011
    26 Comments

    As a subject that inflames passion on both sides of the debate, meat eating is up there with abortion and religion. Yet animal agriculture is responsible for a quarter of all emissions. Labor's carbon price is unlikely to produce significant results while animal farmers are exempt.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Pope on the run

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 07 December 2011
    3 Comments

    The Catholic Church has more than a billion members worldwide. To lead it is an immense responsibility. Irreverence notwithstanding, We Have A Pope stands as a gracious gesture, free of Church politics, to those who accept that responsibility. Surely, none would do so blithely.

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  • RELIGION

    Why I don't preach on abortion

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 07 December 2011
    68 Comments

    I am often asked if I preach on abortion and, if not, why not. The questioners sometimes kindly supply me with the answer. If I do not preach on abortion, it is surely because I am afraid of alienating my liberal friends.

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  • EDUCATION

    The best teacher I ever knew

    • Frank O'Shea
    • 06 December 2011
    13 Comments

    Top classes or remedial ones, nerds or footballers, were all the same to Albert: he was first a teacher of boys and then a teacher of maths. One of Sydney's most prestigious schools offered him a position which he turned down due to a disability that would remain with him for the rest of his life.

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  • CARTOON

    Lame Labor

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 06 December 2011
    1 Comment

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  • RELIGION

    Gay marriage debate has a long way to go

    • Frank Brennan
    • 06 December 2011
    80 Comments

    Even if the Parliament does legislate to expand the definition of marriage beyond its traditional meaning, there will be a constitutional challenge in the High Court. It would be a pity if those of us trying to contribute the strength of the Catholic tradition to the debate were simply characterised as homophobic naysayers.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Reinventing the Aboriginal sports icon

    • Michael Visontay
    • 05 December 2011
    6 Comments

    By showing the wider community that an Aboriginal footballer could be smart as well as strong, Artie Beetson set an enduring example to all Indigenous people about what they could aspire to, on and off the sporting field.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Lesson for heretics

    • Various
    • 05 December 2011
    3 Comments

    Waiting, something opens without our willing it, without force ... A vastness of silent notes accompanies us, a symphony we have longed to hear of belief far beyond our interpretations ...

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Making friends with the landmine capital of the world

    • Michael Mullins
    • 04 December 2011
    1 Comment

    A few years ago, western leaders welcomed the about face of Libya's Colonel Gaddafi. Their enemy became their friend, but it ended badly. International opinion should not rescind Burma's pariah nation status until its leaders have taken definitive action that includes ending the use of landmines.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Afghan terror past and present

    • Jan Forrester
    • 04 December 2011
    8 Comments

    In Afghanistan, the past isn't the past yet. The last 150 years bear directly on its present perilous state. Now that the US is leaving, some US lobbyists and Afghan women wonder what will happen if the Taliban return. 

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