Aug 11, 2018

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media.

On ABC’s Saturday Extra this weekend (in case you missed it)

  • Super trustees: With superannuation in focus at the Banking Royal Commission this week and more shocking revelations of big bank funds charging fees-for-no-service, “grandfathered” commissions and deceiving the regulators,  what can be done to bring them to heel?    Patricia Pascuzzo, Founder and Executive Director of the Committee for Sustainable Retirement Incomes.
  • The State of Egypt: Since Egyptian President Al-Sisi came to power in a military coup in 2013, at least 100 former Arab Spring protestors and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been executed every year.  And with over 60,000 political prisoners this is likely to continue.  Middle East expert Robert Springborg believes that President Al-Sisi is performing a political high-wire act of mesmerizing enough of the population to stay in power, while handing out the sort of authoritarianism much tougher than that meted out by Nasser, Sadat or Mubarak.
  • A measured debate: Coinciding with the appearance of a known racist on Sky TV this week, Craig Emerson announced his resignation from the network, saying that racism is being normalised in political discourse. This coincided with the announcement that Australia had hit a new population high of 25 million.  So because extremes of opinion always have a way of hijacking any serious or measured talk, how do we go about carving out a sensible, constructive debate, one which canvases the concerns many people might have?  Such as the unmanageable pressures currently placed on the infrastructure of our major cities?  A discussion between Bernard Keane, Andrew Jaspan and James Button.
  • The emotional cost of inequality: In 2008 a book called The Spirit Level showed conclusively that inequality makes everything much worse – from public health, education obesity, mental health and crime. Now they delve into the often devastating emotional and psychological effects of inequality, and reveal that in fact, nobody in society remains immune.  Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson are the authors of The Inner Level.
  • The Chase: The real life thriller chronicled by two Norwegian journalists who pursue the story of an illegal fishing boat called Thunder and the world’s longest ever sea chase.

Other commentary

John Warhurst reminds us that the government is pushing ahead with its proposal to require anyone who donates more than $250 to an NGO which makes public comment to sign a statutory declaration to confirm that they are an Australian citizen. Such hobbling of public good lobbies is in stark contrast to the way the government rolls out the red carpet for rent-seeking lobbies, such as the Business Council of Australia and the Minerals Council of Australia.

The ABC’s Big Ideas program is re-broadcasting the BBC’s Reith Lectures. This year the lectures titled “The Mark of Cain” are by Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan, on the history war. Is war an essential part of being human? Why do people find both disturbing and appealing? For copyright reasons the ABC does not give direct links, but it directs listeners to the BBC Website for the lectures, from where you can listen, download MP3 files, or download text of the five lectures. (In her first lecture she reminds listeners that Hitler, recognizing the importance of public broadcasting, directed the Luftwaffe to target the BBC.)

On the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website is Tim Soutphammasane’s public lecture Counteracting the return of race politics in Australia, given on conclusion of his term as Race Discrimination Commissioner. He warns “We must remain vigilant because race politics is back. I take no pleasure in saying this but, right now, it feels like there has never been a more exciting time to be a dog-whistling politician or race-baiting commentator in Australia.”

“Tariffs will make our country much richer than it is today. Only fools would disagree.” So tweeted President Trump last weekend.  Writing in Vox, Emily Stewart presents five pieces of evidence showing how Trump’s protectionism is hurting the USA.

Europe has a problem with crime among immigrants. EU Justice Minister Vera Jourove has called on EU countries to be more careful when granting citizenship. She is referring not to refugees from war-torn countries, but to the beneficiaries of “golden visa” schemes allowing an easy path to citizenship to those who invest large sums of money in their respective countries. “The EU must not become a safe haven for criminals, corruption and dirty money”, she warned. (Link to article in English translation, in German)

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