Vol 23 No 24

02 December 2013


 

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Alternatives to trash reality TV

    • Michael McVeigh
    • 19 December 2013
    4 Comments

    In Pimp my Soup Van, contestants are asked to deck out a van with items that could be used to help people on the streets. In Please Marry My Boys, they sit down with the mothers of people in gay relationships and hear about their experiences. The Refugee Factor asks contestants to listen to asylum seekers' stories, and press a red button at the point where they feel that they, too, would have fled their homeland.

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  • MEDIA

    Facebook personality disorder

    • Ellena Savage
    • 19 December 2013
    8 Comments

    Social media requires us to produce 'profiles' of ourselves that represent our cultural aspirations; not only who we are, but who we imagine we would like to be. This is often liberating and creative. But the digital sphere is not as innocent as mere self-expression. The more we believe that we are inherently self-made, essential beings, our capacity to recognise the cultural and economic forces greater than us suffers.

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  • RELIGION

    Church plays part of Christmas villain

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 18 December 2013
    14 Comments

    Christmas tells the story of a God who entrusted Christ as a baby safely to the care of Mary and Joseph in a markedly hostile secular environment. The stories told at the Royal Commission are of parents who entrusted their children unsafely to the care of representatives of the Church. The face of Herod in our day is not that of a persecutor who threatens the church from without. It is that of a minister of the church who betrays from within.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Abused kids meet with Grace

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 18 December 2013

    Grace is both a character and a state of being. As the lead supervisor of a foster care facility, she oversees her charges with a combination of firmness and friendship. She strictly enforces rules and protocols while remaining unerringly empathetic, easily glimpsing the pain and trauma that lies just beneath the hostile or eccentric facade. But her power of empathy has its roots in past experience that threaten to smother her present.

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  • CARTOON

    Abbott's Christmas present

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 17 December 2013
    1 Comment

    View this week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on

    • Duncan MacLaren
    • 17 December 2013
    17 Comments

    After six years in Australia, I am returning home to Scotland to work for the next year's referendum, which will ask if Scotland should become an independent country. It is essentially a contest between the present insular, Little Englander nightmare and a place in the world as a sovereign state. That's worth leaving Australia for!

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Christmas puns, fun intended

    • Barry Breen
    • 17 December 2013
    11 Comments

    Santa walks into a bar and the barman says: Sorry, we're claused. If sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, then punning must have a reputation almost as undesirable. A joke that can be greeted only with a groan can hardly be a real joke now, can it? But punning has a rich history. It graces the pages of the greatest of writers. And when it comes to puns, subeditors responsible for article headings believe themselves to be a race apart.

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  • RELIGION

    Is the pope a Marxist?

    • Neil Ormerod
    • 16 December 2013
    27 Comments

    Pope Francis' vision for the church of the poor is now joined to a stinging critique of our globalised economy which promotes a 'new tyranny' of unfettered capitalism and an attack on the 'idolatry of money'. While such language has not been uncommon, buried in the riches of Catholic social teaching, this pope has made it up front and centre stage of his message.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Corroboree in the sky

    • Michael Sharkey
    • 16 December 2013
    2 Comments

    The bird that has no feathers mocks my language. Runs and flaps its wings at me but cannot fly. Throws land-things at me. We laugh like water, make corroboree in sky.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The Christmas story's whisper from the edges

    • John Falzon
    • 16 December 2013
    13 Comments

    Recently Pope Francis blasted the so-called trickle-down economic theories in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Some will scorn his message as naive at best and dangerous at worst, while others will regard it as an urgent enkindling of hope in the face of degradation and despair. The Christmas story hints that another kind of world is possible.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    High Court leaves same sex marriage door ajar

    • Frank Brennan
    • 15 December 2013
    30 Comments

    Until now, there was some doubt whether the Parliament's constitutional power to make laws with respect to marriage would be broad enough to include laws with respect to same sex marriage. The High Court has put this matter beyond doubt with all six sitting judges affirming that 'marriage' for the purposes of defining the constitutional power of the Parliament could not be confined to marriage in the traditional Christian sense.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Without jobs we're Scrooged

    • Michael Mullins
    • 15 December 2013
    9 Comments

    Pope Francis says: 'Work means dignity, work means taking food home, work means loving!' Some commentators criticise the government for taking an active role in maintaining employment through subsidising unprofitable industries. They miss the point that it's the government's job to promote the wellbeing of the people, and having a job is so fundamental to living in modern society.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Catherine Deveny's happy diversions

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 12 December 2013
    3 Comments

    Deveny has made a career out of bungee jumping between the chasms of good taste, good writing and good sense. She's never been content to accept societal hypocrisy, and that's an occasional strength in her novel The Happiness Show. It becomes increasingly hard though to separate the author from her lead character, Lizzie. Thanks to an overly generous sprinkling of sex scenes, this quickly goes from disconcerting to downright awkward.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    US gun lobbyists miss the logic of feeling

    • Fatima Measham
    • 12 December 2013
    14 Comments

    I woke up to the news on a Saturday morning. One year ago tomorrow, a man walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire. In the aftermath, gun lobbyists seethed with high indignation that President Barack Obama was politicising a tragedy. It goes to show that the ones who complain about the politicisation of tragedy tend to be the ones who do not want to do anything about it.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Who killed the car industry?

    • Ray Cassin
    • 12 December 2013
    33 Comments

    The immediate responsibility for this looming economic disaster rests with the Abbott Government, and not merely because of its use of a bullying speech in Parliament by the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, to goad Holden into announcing a decision that its masters in Detroit had probably already taken. In the longer term, this should be seen as a bipartisan disaster. What happened this week was the culmination of a process that began under Hawke.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Standing on Mandela's shoulders

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 11 December 2013
    6 Comments

    People respond well to heroes, especially those people who have had their rights subjugated by others. But Obama, with his swagger and rhetoric, was basking in the reflected glow of Mandela's hard-won glory. His address fulfilled the collective expectation that the almost-saint Mandela be eulogised by a man of comparable stature, but it also afforded him a global platform on which to polish his own ego, to reinforce his importance on the world stage. 

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Human rights walking tall

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 December 2013
    4 Comments

    The Declaration of Human Rights exists as a standard by which we can judge our national life and priorities. By these criteria Australian public life displays grounds for concern. In the case of asylum seekers, prisoners and bikies, governments spend more effort on seeking to evade the claims of human rights than to uphold them. In the 'nonsense on stilts' stakes the unfettered appeal to national interest walks far taller than advocacy of human rights.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Coalition stirs the ghost of Jimmie Blacksmith

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 11 December 2013
    5 Comments

    More than a century after Federation, Australia has yet to resolve this tension between a romantic notion of what 'Australia' is, and the depravities that were undertaken to attain it. It may be couched in more polite terms, but it rears its head in ham-fisted and fundamentally disrespectful approaches to Indigenous policy, such as recent moves by the Coalition Government that threaten to undercut the spirit of Native Title legislation.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Greek and American barbarians

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 10 December 2013
    7 Comments

    I knew nothing about Kavafis until I came to Greece, but his presence in my mental and literary life is one of the many presents migration has given me. He was part of the cultivated Greek diaspora in Alexandria, where he spent most of his life working at his day jobs: those of journalist and civil servant. He was a relentless perfectionist who polished and reworked his 154 poems, which were read initially only by his friends.

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  • CARTOON

    Farewell, Mandela

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 10 December 2013

    View this week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.

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  • RELIGION

    Restorative justice beyond the Royal Commission

    • Jane Anderson
    • 10 December 2013
    42 Comments

    Last week I went to the Royal Commission and had a private session, which means, in short, that I am a victim of sexual abuse. That history spanned nearly three decades. My encounters with one perpetrator prepared me for more harrowing experiences during adolescence, and later in a marriage that turned violent. While I commend the Royal Commission process for its sensitivity and professionalism, I would like to offer some alternative thinking.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    A bad Christmas for refugees

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 09 December 2013
    11 Comments

    Last week asylum seekers had a small win only to have it snatched away, and then were confronted by a more serious attack. Those working with asylum seekers have learned to expect abuse and derision from governments directed against asylum seekers and those helping them. Labor is only moderately better than the Coalition, but at least they occasionally made positive decisions. However these recent events have reached a new nadir.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Four poems for Seamus Heaney

    • Various
    • 09 December 2013
    3 Comments

    I was brought up to become a Scottish Protestant boy in exile from the country that was my father's homeland. You grew up to be at home in your history and tongue; my father banned your accent, set me to elocution, as if your speech was my speech-defect. Our history lay elsewhere, even as we were living it.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Supermarket self-regulation is a joke

    • David James
    • 09 December 2013
    15 Comments

    It is hard not to smile over Woolworths' and Coles' 'voluntary' adoption of a code of conduct. Now that the duopoly has decided to mend its ways, it seems it can occupy the moral high ground and preach to everyone else. The Western world has been subject to a quarter of a century of propaganda about the virtues of deregulation. A closer consideration of the supermarket giants' promise to do the right thing offers little reason for confidence.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Mandela crosses the burning water

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 08 December 2013
    13 Comments

    I said my own private goodbye almost two years ago, when I visited Robben Island on a trip back to my homeland of South Africa. That journey across Table Bay, towards the tiny green cell in which you lived for much of your 27-year incarceration, took me not so much to an outpost of apartheid as to the birthplace of democratic South Africa.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't cry for the flying kangaroo

    • Michael Mullins
    • 08 December 2013
    6 Comments

    No patriotic Australian wants to see Qantas go out of business. But the principles of both good business and social inclusion demand the government not thwart competition from Virgin and its cashed up foreign shareholders. In two decades, competition has lowered fares and made it possible for less privileged Australians to fly.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ghost of weddings past, present and future

    • Brian Matthews
    • 05 December 2013
    6 Comments

    Is there a spirit of place, a kind of psychological imprint that endows a particular location? There are spots along the Coorong in South Australia where, as twilight deepens, you could swear that wraith-like, dark figures are moving through the dunes. Recent events made me wonder if the legendary William Buckley lives on in that way on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, where he lived for 32 years among the local Wataurong people.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    ASIO's economic espionage

    • Justin Glyn
    • 05 December 2013
    15 Comments

    The recent revelations that ASIO raided the offices of Timor Leste's lawyers and detained its star witness just before its case against Australia highlights, once again, the question of the linkage between national and commercial interests. ASIO's governing statute does not permit it to engage in economic espionage. Unfortunately, the distinction between government and commercial interests is growing increasingly hard to draw.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    A frank chat about mental illness

    • Georgina Laidlaw
    • 05 December 2013
    13 Comments

    Mental illness begets mental illness. One glance at the reportage on the Royal Commission into child sex abuse proves that. We won't discuss loved ones' mental health because to do so feels like a betrayal. We won't talk about our own mental health because what right do we have to be unhappy? But ill heath is not a right. Suffering is not indulgence. If you're telling yourself that, shut the hell up.

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  • RELIGION

    Sweet and sour in Pope's exhortation

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 04 December 2013
    24 Comments

    To my knowledge this is the first church document that refers to 'sourpusses'. It must be the first lengthy papal document for some time, too, that refers to the Magisterium only twice in passing. Nor does Pope Francis refer explicitly to clerical sexual abuse. Francis is not interested in radical institutional or doctrinal change but wants to help a dysfunctional church work better at compassionately communicating God's love.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Children of the revolution

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 04 December 2013

    As high school students they are too young to have begun the cultural revolution. But they try to fan its flames and bring its ideals to bear. Their idealism is at times tested against the cynicism or jaded moral certitude of older revolutionaries, one of whom chastises them for entertaining legitimate doubts about the means employed by Mao Zedong. There clearly is a gulf between healthy skepticism and wilful blindness.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Thailand tensions must rouse traumatised Coalition

    • Tony Kevin
    • 03 December 2013
    11 Comments

    We are witnessing a serious opposition-led threat to democratic process and respect for election results in Thailand. Possibly the Abbott Government is so traumatised as a result of its current tensions with Indonesia and China that it won't dare to open its mouth on Thailand. But this is a clear case where Australia should comment as a friend of Thailand and of its democratically elected government.

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  • CARTOON

    A Pyneful performance

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 03 December 2013
    3 Comments

    View this week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.

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  • RELIGION

    Do sex offenders deserve dignity?

    • Peter Kirkwood
    • 03 December 2013
    12 Comments

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  • AUSTRALIA

    They call him backflipper, but Gonski's still sliding

    • Ray Cassin
    • 03 December 2013
    9 Comments

    The Education Minister Christopher Pyne has spun the latest developments on education funding reforms as having saved Gonski and achieved what Labor could not. But it is an achievement derived from surrendering oversight of how the money will be spent. If public schools continue to be the losers in the battle for funds, the reversals of the past fortnight will be remembered as the start of a slow burn for the Abbott Government.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    G-G Bryce breaks bold not bland

    • John Warhurst
    • 02 December 2013
    23 Comments

    Governor-General Quentin Bryce's brief interventions on same sex marriage and the republic, though careful and aspirational, may submerge her earlier thoughts. She may come to regret not delaying them until after she leaves office. But more attention has been focused on the monarchy-republic issue when really the more instructive issue for the office of governor-general is the same sex marriage question.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Colonial garden party

    • Barry Gittins, Michael Sharkey and Chris Wallace-Crabbe
    • 01 December 2013
    3 Comments

    The diggers' catchcry, liberty, saw fascism a'yawning/ enfranchisement followed suit, with racism adorning/ its streamlined passions for the cause — White Australia Policy a'borning.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Trott a hero for quitting the Ashes

    • Michael Mullins
    • 01 December 2013
    2 Comments

    English batsman Jonathan Trott was pilloried in some media comments because he abandoned his team because he felt 'stressed'. We should be celebrating the fact that a high profile male sportsman finds that he can declare he has a stress-related illness and then seek help for it.

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  • EDUCATION

    Pyne's Gonski shambles

    • Dean Ashenden
    • 01 December 2013
    20 Comments

    Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne is correct in saying that the Gonski scheme is a mess, but culpably wrong to use that fact to ditch the whole idea. The Gonski mess shows few of the actors concerned in a good light, and some, including Pyne himself, in a very poor one. Pyne's contribution to this debacle was to act as spoiler from the day the Gonski report was released. In that role he has so far adopted no less than four positions.

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