MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. Benedict’s Untimely Meditation. How His Essay on Sex Abuse is Being Weaponized

On the evening of April 10, six weeks after the conclusion of the Vatican’s summit on the sex-abuse crisis, the “pope emeritus,” Benedict XVI, made known his thoughts on the genesis of that crisis in a five-thousand-plus-word essay sent to a periodical for Bavarian priests, quickly translated into English, and then diffused online by Catholic websites known for their hostility to Pope Francis.

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 21 April 2019

Although carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, new modelling demonstrates that it is still technically and economically feasible to keep global warming below 1.5oC, with many advantages for the world’s economy, jobs and public health, but the influence of fossil fuel companies makes it politically unlikely. And yet with just 1oC of warming, life in Africa and Bangladesh is already pretty tough. Indonesia’s plastic waste is causing problems for northern Australia and there would be mutual advantage from the two countries working together on the problem.

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A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

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PATTY FAWKNER SGS. Vague wanting. Our lives, yours and mine, are too precious to fritter away on lukewarm commitments and half-hearted vows.

Do you want God?”

The retreat director’s question to me, a young nun preparing to renew her vows as a Good Samaritan Sister, was uncharacteristically blunt. The much-revered Benedictine priest must have picked up something in my attitude during our daily one-on-one encounters.   Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Appealing to our Better Angels. A repost from 30 June 2011

In an appeal to Secessionists in his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln appealed to ‘the better angels of our nature’. Today we lack the bi-partisan leadership on refugees that would appeal to our better angels. I have yet to hear Julia Gillard make an informed case for generosity towards refugees who are amongst the most vulnerable people in the world. She competes with Tony Abbott to show how tough she can be. Tony Abbott in his opportunism appeals to our darker angels. The Holy Family was indeed lucky when it fled as refugees to Egypt that the Pharaoh did not have a policy to ‘stop the donkeys’. Continue reading

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BEVAN RAMSDEN. Do the US Marines in Darwin pose a risk to our peace and security?

A recent US war exercise involving US Marines landing, capturing and securing an island off the coast of Okinawa is touted as a new US military strategy to use in its challenge to China in the South China Sea.  Is the imbedding of US marines in war exercises on HMAS Adelaide, which has been fitted with amphibious landing gear, part of US strategy to involve Australia in future hostile actions in the South China Sea ?  Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 8 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM Kingsford Smith forecast: Expect churls Inbox x

In his 9 April post on this website ANU Professor Ramesh Thakur put the question: Who Will Bell the Sydney Airport Security Madness?  The expert on disarmament then asked:

Is it possible that pranksters with a perverse sense of humour are in charge of security procedures at Sydney InternationalAirport? Perhaps they are trying to test the limits of traveller tolerance.  

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TIM WOODRUFF. Health Policy and Successful Politics.

Health policy reform is difficult. There are an abundance of powerful stakeholders whose number one priority is definitely not optimum health care for all Australians. But most Australians do share the view that our health care system (which isn’t really a system) needs improving. There are two broad aspects to optimising health. The first is equitable timely access to high quality care. The second is addressing all those factors outside the health system which affect health. These are the social determinants of health and of productivity. Healthy people are more productive. The key social determinant is income inequality, both absolute and relative. Continue reading

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GREG JERICHO. The Coalition boasts about economic management. Where’s the evidence? (The Guardian 16.4.2019)

This is the only government since Fraser’s that hasn’t presided over an improved standard of living.  Continue reading

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EMILE NAKHLEH. Washington hawks clamouring to attack Iran

Those pushing for regime change in Iran are overestimating the Iranian people’s dislike of their theocratic regime and are mistaking that dislike for a willingness to embrace a foreign invader. Like the Bush Administration with Iraq, the Trump Administration appears to have given little or no strategic thought to the future of Iran beyond any possible removal of the clerical regime. If attacked, Iran has the capability to retaliate against its neighbours, in a war that could easily spread across the region. The security challenges that Iran continues to pose will be best addressed by policy that is formulated using reasoned, expert-based strategic analysis.

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ANDREW CHUBB. China’s assertive maritime policy is older than Xi (East Asia Forum)

The toughening of China’s policies in the South and East China Seas is widely regarded as a defining characteristic of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. But while it is true that the PRC has become more assertive in its maritime disputes under Xi, China had already been on such a trajectory since 2006. Many changes in China’s maritime dispute behaviour under Xi may be better understood as continuities. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM Last post for the old guard?

Have Indonesia’s oligarchs performed their final farewell tour? More than two decades after the fall of second president Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order government a commoner has retained the presidency. Continue reading

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STUART REES, Julian Assange, Establishment Interests and the US Culture of Revenge

Julian Assange faces extradition to the United States to face a grand jury’s secretly concocted charge of ‘computer intrusion’ to obtain and reveal classified information. Reaction to Assange’ arrest shows powerful people protecting establishment interests, which, over centuries, have involved lying, deceit, corruption, wars and other forms of violence.   Continue reading

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H.K. COLEBATCH. What’s wrong with the APS?

The Thodey review has stimulated a wide variety of diagnoses of what’s wrong with the APS, but one has been missed.  Could it be that its problem is hubris? Continue reading

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GARRY EVERETT. “Worse things than dying.”

In Eric Bogle’s haunting song : “And the band played Waltzing Matilda”, there is the heart-wrenching line sung by the young soldier who has just had both legs blown off by a Turkish bomb. He sings:”And when I saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead. Never knew there were worse things than dying”.

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GRAEME WORBOYS. Celebrating Kosciuszko’s 75th anniversary.

The 75th anniversary of the establishment of Kosciuszko State Park falls on Good Friday,  19 April 2019. The Park was famously established by Premier William McKell to protect the nationally important mountain water catchments, to restore soil erosion caused by burning off and over-grazing by stock and to provide opportunities for visitor use and enjoyment. Kosciuszko is one of the Australia’s greatest national parks; it is a National Heritage Property protecting priceless Australian heritage and receives more than 1 million visits a year. The Park enjoyed 74 years of bipartisan support for conservation until regressive 2018 legislation was passed to retain thousands of feral horses within the Park.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 6 Comments

IAN McAULEY. Surely Morrison isn’t seriously asking us to trust him

Morrison’s words are a plea to trust his government, but his tactics seem to be aimed at spreading mistrust, not only of Labor but also of democratic institutions more generally.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 2 Comments

SAM BYFORD. Huawei chairman accuses American critics of hypocrisy over NSA hacks (The Verge 27.2.2019)

Huawei’s rotating chairman Guo Ping has gone on the offensive this week at Mobile World Congress, following continued pressure on US allies to drop the Chinese telecoms giant over national security fears.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Media, Politics | 1 Comment

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Who are the terrorists, Iran or the US?

In April 2014 John Howard surprised an audience in Sydney by saying that war with Iran would be next. He didn’t know then about Syria but his alarming prediction about Iran looks like coming true.

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HAL PAWSON and BILL RANDOLPH. On housing, there’s clear blue water between the main parties (The Conversation, 12 April 2019)

Labor’s bold stance on housing tax reform and investment makes this one of the likely policy flashpoints in the coming election campaign. How does the Coalition government’s housing record stand up to scrutiny? What would be in prospect in a third Liberal-National term? And exactly what is Labor’s alternative pitch? Continue reading

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MEGHAN SULLIVAN. Envisioning the Afterlife. The problem with Lazarus.

During Lent, Christians are asked to think much more concretely about our short, precarious lives. We swear off chocolate, alcohol, or, in my case, swearing itself. Continue reading

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Energy Minister Angus Taylor said greenhouse gas emissions have turned around by 1.1 billion tonnes under the Coalition. Is he correct? (ABC News)

The Morrison Government has for months argued Australia is on track to meet its international greenhouse gas emissions abatement targets “in a canter”. Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. The next clash between India and Pakistan (Japan Times 2.4.2019)

For many years, I have argued in these pages that the Indian subcontinent and the Korean Peninsula are among the least unlikely theaters of a nuclear war. The known consequences of a nuclear war mean a deliberate policy decision to go to war is highly unlikely in either theater. But there are different dynamics at play in South and East Asia for an inadvertent nuclear war through an escalation spiral that can be triggered by a minor event, including miscommunication, flawed intelligence, system error or misperception of red lines.  

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JOSHUA J. McELWEE. In new letter, Benedict blames clergy abuse on sexual revolution, Vatican II theology.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a new letter blaming the continuing Catholic clergy abuse crisis on the sexual revolution, developments in theology following the Second Vatican Council, and modern society’s aversion to speaking about God. Continue reading

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ANTHONY PUN. A response from the Chinese Community Council of Australia (CCCA)

The Chinese Australian community warmly thanks Prof Bob Carr for speaking out for the Chinese Australians and giving a detailed analysis of China panic over a period of more than 2 years.  Prof Carr’s suggestion of  a community response based on the Jewish model is a great suggestion and plans can be made to initiate the implementation.  However, the successful implementation would depend on the unity of the 1.2 million Chinese Australian diaspora. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 3 Comments

DAVID MACILWAIN.  Two Australians in trouble abroad.  

The law to censor violent content rushed through Parliament last week connected dots between two Australians abroad, when Julian Assange was “extradited” from Ecuadorian territory, in London. I examine the linkages. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics | 2 Comments

RICHARD FLANAGAN. Have we, Australia, become a country that breeds mass murderers with our words? (The Guardian 14.4.2019)

We are better than our politicians’ dark fears.  We are not their hate. We are optimistic about a country built on openness.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

TIM LINDSEY. Indonesia goes to the polls: rematch or replay? (University of Melbourne, 15 April 2019)

Indonesia goes to the polls on 17 April, with the same presidential candidates as five years ago: the incumbent, Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi), a self-made former furniture exporter and former governor of Jakarta, and Prabowo Subianto, a former general who was once a son-in-law of Soeharto, the authoritarian former president who ruled for three decades until 1998. Continue reading

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. ScoMo is happy to keep the campaign as mean and ugly as possible.

The final jobs for the boys and girls have been squared away, the pointless tit for tat over taxpayer advertising and who is closer to the Chinese have been shelved, and Melissa Price has obediently signed off on Adani, as ordered by the Queensland Nats.   Continue reading

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BOB CARR. Australians with Chinese origins need to come together.

A new burst of messaging on China Panic has been unleashed by Four Corners and newspapers, again giving the impression that hostile forces are threatening Australia. Last month former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans noted  “a new form of Sinophobia is emerging.”  He said this is one of the reasons Chinese-Australians are underrepresented in senior leadership.  Continue reading
Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 6 Comments