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  • INTERNATIONAL

    New Canadian and US laws revive euthanasia debate

    • Frank Brennan
    • 17 May 2016
    30 Comments

    Once the state legislates to permit assistance with the suicide of a dying, suffering, mentally competent person, the door could well be opened to those who agitate a right to kill and not just a liberty to assist with suicide, and that door could be pushed open onto a class of patients which ultimately will include those who are not dying at all That door is now wide open in Belgium and the Netherlands, while he Canadian Parliament is trying to place appropriate limits. I'm for keeping that door firmly shut.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Bob Ellis the gifted troublemaker

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 05 April 2016
    7 Comments

    Ellis' work is a prime example of the notion advanced by the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: that committed literature, and the act of writing, are political and ethical acts. Even in a film script, one can ponder social political change. Always of the left, but never formally the structured party man of faction and following, the dishevelled, sometimes wild Ellis proved contrarian even to Labor stalwarts. There were never pious reflections, or unqualified praises.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Death and resurrection on Christmas Rock

    • Deanne Davies
    • 05 April 2016
    1 Comment

    The breeze spills, engulfing gorges, ruffling trees. The leaves whisper ancestral stories, signalling from hill to hill creation mysteries. The track wends past abandoned tennis courts, their turf is crushed, compacted anthills that salmon gums reclaim. The creek is waterless but when seeded with rain froglets bleat like lambs. Once trees flaming orange were common ... the granite, grey with age, once barren, yet when Earth trembled, it crevassed and soil collected, water funnelled, plants sowed.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    A word to the wise on selling climate action

    • Greg Foyster
    • 11 March 2016
    3 Comments

    The best known examples of framing come from American cognitive linguist George Lakoff. He argues that George W. Bush replaced the phrase 'tax cuts' with 'tax relief' to reframe paying tax as an affliction. Embedded in those two words is a neo-conservative worldview against government intervention in the private sphere. If you accept the term, you absorb the worldview. In a similar way, a few words could build political will to tackle climate change. The problem is no one is sure what they are.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Being myself doesn't work

    • Paul Micallef
    • 29 February 2016
    11 Comments

    Autism typically makes people less likely to care what others think. When I was younger my default was to do what I wanted, to 'be myself', and not worry if others were not doing the same thing. You can imagine what happens when I put this into action: I end up alone. I am the only one not dancing. I am the only one who wants to crank the metal music at 7am. I like people. I want to share my experiences. But often my choice often comes down to: 'Do I be myself? Or do I be around others?'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Shedding light on elder abuse

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 23 February 2016
    7 Comments

    Elder abuse resembles child abuse in its iceberg qualities: both have received little attention until comparatively recently. In the case of elder abuse, very few cases ever come to court: old people are as helpless as children, similarly unable to plead their own cases, and afraid to: they have little power. The Yiddish proverb springs to mind: If you can't bite, don't show your teeth. The most consistent offenders, sad to say, are family members, who are often adept at exploiting the fear that is part of ageing.

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  • MEDIA

    Battered broadcaster's Bolt delusion

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 27 January 2016
    13 Comments

    Josh Bornstein compared the ABC to the victim in an abusive relationship, desperately trying to ward off the next blow by anticipating the criticism of its enemies. Certainly, enlisting Andrew Bolt to participate in a documentary on Indigenous constitutional recognition seems like a pre-emptive defensive move against the accusations of bias that are routinely levelled against the national broadcaster. For Bolt the arrangement is win-win; for the ABC it's yet another example of self-sabotage.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    2015 in review: Contemplating war in France

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 14 January 2016
    3 Comments

    As I marched for Remembrance Day in our small village in France, I wondered, 'How long will these villages keep these ceremonies? When will someone decide these wars are too long ago or too far away?' Two days later, Paris was attacked. The news came like war does: sudden and violent. Then came declarations of a state of emergency and the closing of borders. My eldest daughter was over the border in Switzerland without a passport. War starts in increments, in the small ordinary worries of families.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    A Human Rights Day tribute to the Northern Territory's Tony Fitzgerald

    • Frank Brennan
    • 10 December 2015

    I first met this Tony on my regular visits here to Darwin when he was working at the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and then when he set up the mediation services under the auspices of Anglicare. In later years I knew him when he was your Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. He was a quiet, considered, gentle, strong and principled man. On Human Rights Day, it is only fitting that I honour Tony by offering some reflections on the architecture for human rights in Australia, on the contemporary human rights controversies, and on the way forward for better protection of the human rights of Aborigines and asylum seekers, two marginalised groups who had a special claim on Tony's sympathies.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    What will children dream if not of bears?

    • Brian Doyle
    • 09 December 2015
    2 Comments

    If a three-year-old likes bears, you are into bears for the foreseeable future. Bears have been around since before there were pencils, my young friend said, which is inarguably true, and not something I had ever considered before. When we talk about what is lost in a world in which wilderness is lost, we never talk about the loss of the life we imagine. When there are no bears in the world, then no children will dream of bears, and draw bears, and sleep with bears, and that will be a terrible shame.

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  • RELIGION

    'Equal laws and equal rights ... dealt out to the whole community'. How close 161 years on?

    • Frank Brennan
    • 04 December 2015
    1 Comment

    'Tonight, gathered here in the Southern Cross Club in the national capital, gathered as Eureka's children. We affirm that there is room for everyone under the Southern Cross. I hope you will return to Canberra carrying the Southern Cross flag when we proclaim the Australia Republic on 1 January 2020 which will be two elections after Australia last had a monarchist leader of a major political party. Tony Abbott is the last of his type. Whether the prime minister honoured to witness the proclamation is Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten or another matters not.' Annual Dinner for Eureka's Children, Southern Cross Club, Canberra, 3 December 2015.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Hipster heroes of gentrification

    • Charlotte Howell
    • 02 December 2015
    1 Comment

    I was born into a working class family in Leyton, East London. But in the late 1980s, gentrification in the area forced us to relocate to the poor working class town of Harlow, Essex. In a twist of fate, these days I can't even afford to live there. This time it is not due to gentrification brought about by 'hipster' entrepreneurs, but because powerful construction companies have replaced the historical architecture with new developments and housing estates. I know who I'd rather pick a fight against.

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