Vol 27 No 14

16 July 2017


AUSTRALIA

How much is an Aboriginal youth's life worth?

13 Comments
07 August 2017 | Sandra Norsen

Obituaries pageIn the wake of the Elijah Doughty verdict I find myself considering the implications for my own family and loved ones. I have followed for some time the extraordinary number of American citizens recklessly killed by police (over 700 so far this year and counting) and I am distraught at the disproportionate number of black people, including minors as young as 14 and 15, represented in these statistics. The prejudice and self-righteous bigotry behind these deaths in unconscionable. But until the Elijah Doughty case, I had not considered that this horrific, racially motivated violence does occur so much closer to home.


CREATIVE

The fear conundrum

13 Comments
06 August 2017 | Michael D. Breen

Silhouette in mistHow much fear do we want? Enough of it preserves our lives. Too much of it diminishes our lives. Currently, the balance is skewed by an overload of fear. Anxiety, its clinical name, is in epidemic proportions.


INTERNATIONAL

A terrifying new arms race

4 Comments
06 August 2017 | Todor Shindarov

xxxxxToday’s highly technological era amazes us with possibilities for human growth and innovation, but in our amazement we often forget to tackle various pitfalls. Arguably, the biggest risk is the emerging military technology, about which there are many unanswered questions. We are faced with many uncertainties: security risks due to loss of competitiveness, potential control over advanced weapons by terrorists and, most importantly, reduced comprehension by the wider society—let alone any participation in the decision making process, as the frenzied pace of technological development increases.


AUSTRALIA

The evils of the weapons industry

14 Comments
03 August 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

xxxxxDefence Minister Christopher Pyne recently called for an expansion of the Australian weapons industry. It would enable Australia to join the United States and Britain as a major exporter of weapons and further Australia’s strategic goals. The move has a logic: if you want weapons it is cheaper to make them than buy them; if you make them it is more profitable to sell them to others than to keep them all for yourself; if you sell them it is best to sell them to your friends.


Time to protect vulnerable university students

9 Comments
03 August 2017 | Fatima Measham

Malcolm TurnbullThis week, the Australian Human Rights Commission released Change the Course. It is a landmark report into sexual assault and harassment at universities. The undertaking was propelled by survivors, student leaders and support organisations.


The future of work and what employers expect

4 Comments
02 August 2017 | Kate Galloway

Michael SukkarMy research lately has focussed on the future of work. In particular, I've been interested in what's known as the graduate outlook: what employers expect of university graduates and how university graduates have fared in terms of work. I've looked more broadly than this, into expectations of how work generally is expected to change, and I've looked more narrowly too, at the future of lawyers' work.


REVIEWS

Inter-racial marriages finally get some attention

3 Comments
02 August 2017 | Megan Graham

xxxxxAbout one in six newlyweds in the United States is involved in a ‘mixed marriage’, according to the Pew Research Center. At home, the percentage is higher; in 2009 approximately 42 per cent of marriages involved at least one partner who was not born in Australia.


AUSTRALIA

The bi-partisanship shame of refugee policy

29 Comments
01 August 2017 | Frank Brennan

NAIDOC Week 2017 posterWhat possessed Filippo Grandi, the relatively new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to go public last week, having a go at Australia for our government’s treatment of unvisaed asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat? He repeated UNHCR’s demand that Australia terminate offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island and that we not outsource our responsibilities to others.


CREATIVE

In defence of hope

6 Comments
01 August 2017 | John Ellison Davies

JudgeWhy do we get out of bed in the morning? Out of habit certainly, but at some level we have to believe that in the day ahead we may make some small incremental progress toward our goals, whatever they may be. A small improvement in the garden. The flourish of a job well done. We must have hope that we will find some joy in the day, some satisfaction that brings a sense of well-being.


Awareness Campaign and Despair Stalks

2 Comments
31 July 2017 | Haley Joray Arnold and Cassandra Golds

xxxxxYou used to have feet like a Russian ballerina/Arches (like ones plebeians would stand under, lose their breath for a moment)/The weight they carry remarkable for the/Tiny bones inside ... Despair stalks the house/Outside, like weather/Inside, like air/It has no form ...


RELIGION

It is time to stop equivocating about domestic violence

17 Comments
31 July 2017 | Sean Lau

xxxxxAs the responses poured in to the ABC’s story on domestic violence in evangelical churches, I was reminded of the discomfort Saint Augustine showed, in The Confessions, towards his father beating his mother. But he still praised his mother for placating her husband to avoid beatings, and for criticising wives who were beaten. Augustine, then, while possibly opposing domestic violence, had no idea what to do about it, and endorsed behaviour that made it worse.


Ordinary Catholics must help with reform

38 Comments
30 July 2017 | Kevin Liston

xxxxxThere are many reform movements active in the Catholic Church. Most seem to focus on changing the structures and systems of the church, on reshaping doctrinal positions and updating teachings. Organisational reform is necessary and long overdue but there is also need for a complementary movement among ordinary Catholics.

 


ECONOMICS

Outlawing smoking for the young is a social responsibility

7 Comments
30 July 2017 | Collince Adienge

xxxxxWhen limitations are placed on an individual’s liberty some people will call it bureaucracy or tyranny; others will say that they have been denied an opportunity to make decisions. The common sense middle position is typically that freedoms should be protected if they do not infringe on other peoples’ rights. 


Where is money headed?

2 Comments
29 July 2017 | David James

Obituaries pageThe daily fluctuations of financial markets and the fractious debates over economic policy are concealing something deeper and much more disturbing. The future of money itself is in question. A decade after world banking almost collapsed in the global financial crisis, the questions raised have not been answered.


CREATIVE

Finding life in the obits

3 Comments
29 July 2017 | Daniel Rose

Obituaries pageI read the obituaries every Sunday. Maybe as a writer I enjoy the stories people leave behind. I think too, that in this age of fake news, angry politics and incessant streams of information, the obits offer a slice of realism. One small headshot and a two inch long bio. That is all that remains of us in the end. You might think that perusing the obituaries would be depressing. But for me, it's invigorating. It's energising. It renews my faith in humanity.


AUSTRALIA

Elijah Doughty decision shows there is rarely justice for aboriginal victims

37 Comments
27 July 2017 | Celeste Liddle

Obituaries pageAs the news came through that the man who had run down young Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie last year had escaped a manslaughter conviction and instead had been sentenced for three years for the charge of reckless driving causing death, I saw Aboriginal community members dissolve. Many expressed grief for Elijah's family and community. Others set about highlighting how there is rarely any justice in this system for Aboriginal people.


MEDIA

Why having a female Dr Who matters

12 Comments
26 July 2017 | Neve Mahoney

xxxxxIt was recently announced that the thirteenth iteration of the main character in Doctor Who will be played by Jodie Whittaker. A woman. In 2017, the casting of a white woman in a major TV role is hardly revolutionary, except that the role is the Doctor, a regenerative alien who can take on the appearance of anyone, but has for 12 iterations tended towards the persona of a quirky British white man.


REVIEWS

The thin line between apes and humans

9 Comments
25 July 2017 | Megan Graham

xxxxxI came to the Planet of the Apes films a little late, thinking it was just a bit too far on the silly side for my tastes. But with time to kill on a holiday in 2014, I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and found myself surprisingly invested in the emotions of the characters. Released in Australia today is the latest episode: War for the Planet of the Apes.


Finding the high way

11 Comments
25 July 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

xxxxxIn our society ethical questions such as those to do with marriage, crime and punishment, the beginnings and endings of life, and freedom of speech are often highway issues. Protagonists establish in advance the right way to go, keep their foot down and their eyes on the road without noticing the terrain the highway traverses. Road signs indicating another destinations or alternative routes are ignored and towns by-passed. Certainty is gained; understanding of country is sacrificed.


CREATIVE

Non-ants and animal whimdom

2 Comments
23 July 2017 | Barry Gittins

xxxxxants don’t sleep elephants weep presidents creep oolong teas steep and we observe. dictators serve goosekillers swerve ignorance hits curve art shows verve and we obsess. rabbits stress tortoises press paedophiles confess corporations bless and we object


INTERNATIONAL

Obamacare not in 'death spiral' because people value it

6 Comments
22 July 2017 | Lesley Russell

xxxxxObamacare, although imperfect, was soundly constructed and thoughtfully implemented. It has withstood constitutional challenges and survived endless Congressional votes to repeal and amend it. Republicans talk only about its problems and the Trump Administration has worked hard to sabotage it further, but the fact is that Obamacare is not in a 'death spiral'. It is working surprisingly well.


AUSTRALIA

Dual citizenship should be a plus in modern Australia

38 Comments
20 July 2017 | Fatima Measham

Greens Senator Larissa WatersThere are layers of frustration around the resignation of Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters due to dual citizenship. The immediate loss of two of Australia's better parliamentary performers - on any side of politics - is unfortunate. For no one in their orbit and nothing in the AEC nomination process to have caught something so fundamental is unsettling, but perhaps not that odd. Presumptions of Australian-ness are more or less adjudicated on a certain kind of look and surname.


RELIGION

Respecting Australian law is key to religious freedom

12 Comments
20 July 2017 | Rachel Woodlock

xxxxxBecause we are a multicultural and multi-religious society, we do not impose a singular moral or religious code on everyone. Believers can follow their faith’s code of living voluntarily. But if they choose to enter public debate about legislation on questions that affect everybody, they must construct their arguments based on reasoning acceptable to non-believers.


ENVIRONMENT

Electricity market for dummies (i.e. politicians)

11 Comments
19 July 2017 | Greg Foyster

Wind farmAfter months of very silly debate about clean energy, one thing is abundantly clear: the electricity market is evolving much faster than most politicians and commentators can understand it. The story underneath all the distraction is that wind and solar have already changed the game. As that big Finkel report no one read made clear, 'there is no going back from the massive industrial, technological and economic changes facing our electricity system'.


INTERNATIONAL

Judaism and dissent

20 Comments
19 July 2017 | Na'ama Carlin

xxxxxSpeak out against Israeli policies towards Palestinians and you are betraying fellow Jews. This narrative is common, and we see it today in relation to human rights organisations in Israel. It is not new. The same thing occured decades ago, when scholar Gershom Scholem accused Hannah Arendt, the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, of lacking 'love of the Jewish people'.


REVIEWS

Civil War gender power games

18 July 2017 | Tim Kroenert

This is a deliberate subversion of typical, destructive Western tropes by Coppola, in which it is the male character who is objectified by the female gaze. In this she probes how this particular man either thrives under or is stymied by such objectification. John is more than aware of the sexual and romantic stirrings he has aroused among his new companions. But in his assumption that his objectification is empowering, he has utterly underestimated the emotional and psychic complexities of those doing the objectifying.


AUSTRALIA

What fuelled the crisis in the West?

21 Comments
18 July 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Thomas Cole's 'The Fall of Rome'Paul Kelly in the Australian makes the case that the decline in Christian faith made evident in the recent Census is in large measure responsible for the widespread loss of trust in the political system throughout the West. There are inevitable limitations to such broad brush arguments. Lack of trust in politics and institutions is not new. From the Roman Empire to contemporary China authorities who do not ensure an adequate supply of bread to their citizens can expect to meet distrust, unrest and replacement.


Senator Ludlam's crime and punishment

11 Comments
17 July 2017 | John Warhurst

Senator Scott LudlumLudlam's departure means that the Senate has now had three senators, including Bob Day, the Family First leader, from South Australia, and Rod Culleton of the One Nation Party, who was also from Western Australia, declared ineligible to sit in the Parliament in the 12 months since the last election. One is an accident but three is an epidemic. This is a disturbing turn of events.


Sexual harassment in Australia and the US

10 Comments
17 July 2017 | Sara Vukojevic

Woman on city streetI couldn't believe it. It was the most obvious example of street harassment ever. Builders? Check. Cheesy pickup lines? Check. Innuendos? Check. Trying to prevent a woman from moving away? Check. It could've been a lot worse. Something worse happened to me in California. But this situation got my heart beating. It's six, large, capable men. They can do anything they want to me. I can't prevent it from happening if they decide they need to do more than look.


CREATIVE

Spider music

1 Comment
16 July 2017 | Chris Jackson

Spider webI am, of course, a spider: my obstinacy, a viola; my gossamer back-and-forthing, woven ruminations of a violin. Watch me, busy always to continue a spider's life. All things love the little kingdom they inherit. This is home, intricate with fetched fidget, this scratchy bow-flight is a busy cello urging me to tracery, all tossed about in winds of orchestra.


MEDIA

Stock images strengthen chronic fatigue stigma

4 Comments
13 July 2017 | Evan Young

Silhouette in mistIf used without thought, stock images can misrepresent and trivialise serious issues. I have the displeasure of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a hugely misunderstood and devastating condition. When I see an article on CFS, it is almost always beneath a stock photo of somebody yawning or with head in hands. These images contribute to society's misapprehension that CFS is exclusively related to sleep, making it even tougher for patients to live in a world already hard enough to live in.


Encryption and liberties on the 'ungovernable' internet

5 Comments
13 July 2017 | Binoy Kampmark

WhatsApp and Facebook iconsTurnbull's attitude echoes the fear all autocracies have: that control is slipping away, and that citizens cannot be trusted to behave in a modern communications environment without government intrusions. Arguments are repeatedly made that such enlarged powers are never abused - a charmingly naive assumption - and that law enforcement authorities merely need the 'capacity' to have them. These can either abate, or be extended, after a review. The reality tends to be different.


INTERNATIONAL

Victory claimed in Mosul, but other battles loom

2 Comments
13 July 2017 | William Gourlay

An operation to retake western Mosul, 6 March 2017With ongoing celebrations in Baghdad and scenes of devastation in Mosul, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the 'liberation' of Iraq's second-largest city from ISIS. This moment, after an umbrella force of military units fought for nine months to relieve Mosul of the ISIS yoke, represents a victory for the people and government of Iraq. However, many challenges loom, among them reconciling conflicting interests amongst Iraq's peoples and restoring the ravaged landscape.