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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Ai Weiwei is the cultural hero that China needs

    • Jeremy Clarke
    • 16 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Ai Weiwei might be more Dada than Dao and a hirsute satirist of Beijing's rulers, but he is no mere trending hashtag. Since his birth in 1957, his life history has moulded him, and given him the courage to speak up for a reformed China. And while he might appear the court jester that a simplistic West wants, he is in fact a clever and pragmatic political operator in his own world pursuing a rights agenda in a systematic, constructive and humorous way, often through artistic production.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Fragile earth will not be saved by Sunday

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 10 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Located in Paris in the aftermath of the attacks, COP21 spookily mirrors how climate change politics occurs within complex and pre-existing power structures that determine its effectiveness. Social and environmental wars merge with increasing intensity: from Syria to the Arctic, from Indonesia to Paris. Climate change complexity matches the complexity of terrorism. Causal chains of social conflict are as complicated as carbon movements that result in environmental distress.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The long haul

    • Lisa Brockwell
    • 08 December 2015
    3 Comments

    There is another life where we end up together. We wake in the same bed, startled but not sorry; the timber frame is warm, hand-caulked with the day-to-day dedication of the long haul. The air between us no longer electric, all now sanded smooth. But whose dog jumps on the end of that bed: yours or mine? I don't plan to think about my husband or your wife; let's leave my son right out of it. Fantasy, no more dangerous than eating gelato and dreaming of Mark Ruffalo.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No alarms and no opinions

    • Ellena Savage
    • 04 December 2015
    7 Comments

    In November I did not change my profile picture to a European flag. I did not post a link to a fresh journalistic insight into a gang of men with machetes who are desperate to feel relevant in the empty ravine of history. I felt mild joy for Myanmar, but if I am honest, I don't know enough about Myanmar. I felt indignant that no-one changed their profile pictures to the Mali flag after 170 people were taken hostage there. Then my indignation dissolved when I realised I didn't know what the Mali flag looked like.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Human faces from Indonesia's killing fields

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 03 December 2015
    2 Comments

    Adi was born after the 1965 atrocities, but his older brother Ramli was killed during them. He watches filmed interviews in which the perpetrators laughingly detail Ramli's murder, before going to confront and question them. These encounters are emblematic of a new generation of Indonesian seeking enlightenment from a former generation who find it less painful, or simply more beneficial, to forget. But Adi doesn't seek to humiliate or denigrate. He seeks the seeds of reconciliation in shared humanity.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Working mum contemplates balance amid chaos

    • Jen Vuk
    • 27 November 2015
    1 Comment

    The tweet I sent that afternoon pretty much summed things up: 'Running late for work-life balance seminar. Why? Life, of course.' The irony was not lost on me. While officially I work part-time, I also freelance as a writer, volunteer regularly at my kids' primary school, have increasingly frail elderly parents who I feel terribly responsible for, and try to keep fit and maintain some semblance of a social life. On the day of the seminar on work-life balance, I'd managed to fill my schedule to breaking point.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Malcolm Turnbull's confidence trick

    • Tim Robertson
    • 25 November 2015
    17 Comments

    The vitriol with which much of the liberal mainstream media responded to Tony Abbott's Margaret Thatcher memorial speech last month confirmed what many rightwingers have been claiming: that Abbott's problem was not his policies, but his inability to sell them. As communicators, he and Turnbull are poles apart. To date, the most striking achievement of the Malcolm Turnbull confidence trick is that he's rewarded for his apparent progressivism, even when he speaks explicitly against it.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Called or shunned by Vietnam war conscription

    • B. N. Oakman
    • 10 November 2015
    7 Comments

    I'd never met a Vietnamese, couldn't figure what we had against them. But we were raised in shadow of returned men, the shimmer of lapelled bronze, a presumption we in our turn would go when ordered ... Most of us dodged gap years of sweat and khaki, missing madness, maiming, napalm, agent orange, learning how to kill and to piss ourselves out of fear. Instead we were granted head starts with women, front marks in the greasy pole dash, a less congested clamber to unremarkable lives.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Housing fantasy quashed by culture of entitlement

    • Ellena Savage
    • 06 November 2015
    23 Comments

    When I was a child, the house I longed for in my adult future was blonde-bricked, double-storied, concrete-paved, white-carpeted. Now I am older, and renting a room in such a house is possible, if I share the place with six other paying adults. Because it is 2015, I live in Melbourne (the sixth-least affordable city to live in in the world), and am not a merchant banker. No concrete plot will ever by mine, I say in tune with the million other people my age who have just assimilated that knowledge.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Zones of sacrifice in the Western Downs gasfield

    • Mark Copland
    • 02 November 2015
    10 Comments

    When Chinchilla farmer George Bender took his own life, it ended a ten year struggle with the coal seam gas industry that has wreaked havoc on his property and that of his neighbours. Despite mountains of paper regulations, despite a well-resourced Gasfield Commission and Gasfield Compliance Unit, people in the region feel abandoned. It seems that government bodies are enablers and facilitators of the industry rather than regulators and protectors of the people, the soil and the water.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Modern Islamophobia echoes murderous anti-Semitism

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 30 October 2015
    7 Comments

    Invoking Joseph Conrad's story about seagoing doppelgangers, 'The Secret Sharer', Edward Said identified Islamophobia as anti-Semitism's respectable twin. Indeed Israeli PM Netanyahu's description of the Mufti urging Hitler onto greater evil contains an echo of the old anti-Semitic canard of Jews as shadowy manipulators. This trope is central to the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, was a key element in Goebbels' propaganda campaigns, and is now central to contemporary Islamophobia.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Reflect and connect to give peace a chance

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 24 September 2015
    3 Comments

    This year's International Day of Peace comes amid much war-making. Those with a feel for history may see it as an echo of an idealistic age that had experienced years of war and was determined to shape a better world. To those caught in fear and violence, and promised another ten years of the same, it will come as an insinuating hope against hope; a reproach to a world that stirs rather than douses wars.

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