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  • AUSTRALIA

    Japan's Olympic dream disrupts disaster recovery

    • Pepi Ronalds
    • 06 March 2017
    3 Comments

    This week marks the anniversary of the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown) that hit northern Japan on 11 March 2011. The event took over 18,000 lives, and initially displaced 470,000 people. Six years on, 127,000 are still without a permanent home. Delays have been caused by the sheer physical scope, pre-existing regulations and other restrictions. These are all understandable. What is less easy to accept are the disruptions caused by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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  • RELIGION

    Luther’s challenge to the Church then and now

    • Bill Wright
    • 06 March 2017
    4 Comments

    Speaking of reform in the church can mean many things. Often it's about practical matters: sorting out the Vatican Bank, changing how bishops are chosen or clergy trained; that sort of thing. Occasionally, however, reform is about seeking real religious change. Martin Luther, I want to suggest, is one of those reformers who was not concerned with tinkering with structures of the church but with reforming the Christian message so that it might reform the believer.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Weighing in on Abbott's Labor Lite slight

    • John Warhurst
    • 03 March 2017
    18 Comments

    Two irreconcilable views of the ideological position of the Turnbull government are now in circulation. One, held by those who once had high hopes that Malcolm Turnbull would lead a small l liberal government, is that the Coalition clearly is conservative. The other, advanced by South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi when he deserted the ship to form the Australian Conservatives, is that the Turnbull government is not conservative enough, maybe not even conservative at all. Both views can't be right.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Cultural memory points the way through the Trumpocalypse

    • Brigitte Dwyer
    • 24 February 2017
    6 Comments

    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.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Food waste in the age of hunger

    • Francine Crimmins
    • 24 February 2017
    2 Comments

    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.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Turnbull's coal pitch is a Trojan Horse for gas

    • Greg Foyster
    • 23 February 2017
    10 Comments

    Australia's most politically contentious rock is back in the limelight after Prime Minister Turnbull spruiked 'clean coal' power stations in early February, and Scott Morrison brought a lump of the stuff to parliament. It was a juvenile act, but an effective one: here we are again, still talking about coal weeks later, when the real energy policy battle is over gas. But that's how it goes - a pitch for a new coal-fired power station in Australia is actually a clever exercise in repositioning gas as a greener fuel.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Sifting the scat of Trump's first ten days

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 01 February 2017
    23 Comments

    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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  • AUSTRALIA

    Freedom of conscience and same-sex marriage

    • Jack Maxwell
    • 23 January 2017
    25 Comments

    Two issues can be dealt with shortly. First, ministers of religion must be free to solemnise marriages in accordance with their beliefs. Second, there is no basis for extending a similar concession to marriage celebrants. The case of commercial service providers is more complex. Many argue that caterers, florists, reception centres and so on should be free to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, on the basis of their religious beliefs. The case for the commercial exemption is unconvincing.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Guilt edged smartphones an unhappy Christmas gift

    • Francine Crimmins
    • 19 December 2016
    22 Comments

    A few years ago I woke up on Christmas morning to see a small, neatly wrapped gift under the tree. The size and shape were familiar and I was excited to see my name on the gift tag. I'd wanted a new phone all year ... one with one of those touch screens everyone else seemed to have. A few months later I could no longer feel pride for my phone, instead just guilt. I'd sat down and watched a documentary about how phones just like mine were manufactured.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Fall of Aleppo caps off wretched 2016

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 16 December 2016
    12 Comments

    Assad's victory epitomises, in a sense, the reactionary tide prevailing just about everywhere in this, the Year of the Donald. The hopes raised during the Arab Spring have, it seems, been crushed, with the Syrian regime consolidating its grip over a nation it has oppressed for so long. Yet Aleppo also illustrates how little the Right's victories have actually settled. The Right's biggest asset is often the Left, with progressives seemingly determined to validate all the smears levelled against them.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    No vacancy at the inn (or anywhere else in Australia)

    • Marlene Marburg
    • 05 December 2016
    5 Comments

    Please god of the fit and strong, forbid we should become 'the un-lucky country'. Help us to conjure the nerve to say, There is no room for you here in Australia. No vacancies. All full up. You will be turned away while you are trying to give your family respite from poverty or war. We have no room for you. We are using our space for shops. And Christmas trees.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    History comes to strife in Stratford-upon-Avon

    • Patrick McCabe
    • 29 November 2016
    3 Comments

    Someone I read in high school, so probably Shakespeare, once said 'The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.' Well, whoever it was clearly hadn't been to Stratford-upon-Avon (so maybe not Shakespeare then). Here, you truly can visit the past, without a passport. As one peruses the shops, houses, supermarkets and ATMs, one cannot help but speculate as to the links between Shakespeare's works and what must have been the commonplaces of his everyday life.

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