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Self-righteous road use causes accidents10/02/2015
Better infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes helps to avoid cyclists being injured. But the road is not a battleground and increased armoury is not the answer to our need for safer roads. A more gracious attitude to each other on the part of both motorists and cyclists is just as important.
ISIS not the only enemy for Iraqi Kurds10/02/2015
In Northern Iraq, foreign owned oil companies have been moving in. As locals are turfed from their land to make way for oil production, they must fight for their rights and their environment. They say poisonous gases are causing crop failure. Australians bear some of the responsibility.
The financial crisis the Government wants us to have08/02/2015
The Coalition Government falsely claims that Medicare co-payments and cuts to welfare and publicly funded institutions such as the CSIRO and the ABC are necessary to 'fix Labor's mess'. There are indeed structural problems with the economy, but essentially the plan is to strip the public sector by cutting universal access to a range of services that also includes tertiary education, to create a dominant free market that marginalises Australians on low incomes.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's advice for Joe Hockey08/02/2015
As a former business executive, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks with particular authority on economic issues. He has just given a landmark speech on the 'Good Economy' in which he stresses that everybody including the marginalised has a role to play. As our Coalition MPs undergo soul searching in order to reconnect with the Australian people, they might consider the virtues of a reduced pace of economic growth that has more universal benefit.
What Tony Abbott owes working mothers05/02/2015
The rewards of parenthood are immeasurable. But the price that women pay when they become mothers is unjust. This includes lost opportunities, gender wage gaps, and sparse superannuation savings. They really need an efficient and fair maternity leave scheme to support them as they transition from worker to working mother. Tony Abbott's 'signature' policy is now gone, and the 'replacement' families package has a big gap to fill.
Petrol price plunge won’t arrest car decline05/02/2015
After years of writing pain-at-the-pump puns, journalists are giddy at the prospect of prices heading south for once. The low price is a boon for motorists and regional tourism operators. But it won't change the face that we've hit 'peak car' and are driving less. Young people now prize access over ownership.
Pope Francis as media role model for Tony Abbott04/02/2015
Our unpopular politicians have not been served well by advice that they should be 'on message' - more controlled and less quirky in their dealing with the media. Pope Francis, whose approval ratings are off the scales, takes the opposite approach, famously engaging the public imagination with symbolic gestures that embody his program.
Linguist's life and language lost to Alzheimer's04/02/2015
The brilliant linguistics professor Alice Howland and her biologist husband, John, sit down to break the news to their adult children: Alice has early-onset Alzheimers. At first Alice maintains a fragile, trembling stoicism. But when she tells them the disease may be passed on genetically, the façade slowly implodes. 'I'm sorry,' she weeps, horrified by the prospect of what she clearly sees as a betrayal.
Avoiding the other 'F' word03/02/2015
To prevent arguments, I have given up using the word 'football' for any code. I now almost exclusively use the terms soccer, Aussie rules, rugby (union) or league. What matters is not the shape of the ball, but whether a sport can provide great stories and spectacles on the field.
Nice guy Jokowi a death penalty strong man03/02/2015
The execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is expected to take place on Nusakembangan, a prison island off Central Java. Visitors there are greeted by a sign which translates: 'They are not criminals, just lost people, and it is never too late to repent'. To be executed after you repent, however, is certainly too late. It also diminishes Indonesia. But let's not write Indonesia off.
High Court fails high seas detainees01/02/2015
The Abbott Government had a thumping big win in the High Court on Tuesday. All seven High Court judges have made it clear that there is next to nothing that can be done in the courts to question the government's approach. It is lawful, acceptable to government, and hardly a matter of concern to the Australian community, that 157 asylum seekers, including children, can be kept in windowless detention on an Australian vessel for a month on the high seas in the Indian Ocean.
The tweets of Murdoch's self-destruction01/02/2015
Rupert Murdoch's tweets about the Prince Philip knighthood were as bizarre as the knighthood itself. It's clear that the Prime Minister will not comply with Murdoch's wishes because they were expressed so publicly and in such a self-discrediting manner. But if his directions had been issued behind closed doors, they might have been taken seriously and acted upon.
Pop up shop of poetic pollie horrors29/01/2015
We all have these abruptly resurfacing images and references that pop up unannounced. For example, Treasurer Joe Hockey's musings on the poor, who don't drive very far - 'O scathful harme, condition of povertie' (Chaucer). And the rich, who are 'lifters'. I was invaded mentally by Yeats's 'Surely among a rich man's flowering lawns.' Without pain and with cigars and smirks of self-congratulation.
The PM's taste for old blood29/01/2015
Tony Abbott's preoccupation with knights and dames, together with his unilateral award of a knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh, is evidence of his attraction to the past more than the future. Likewise his December Cabinet reshuffle was not a serious effort at renewal. He shuffled the existing deck of cards but didn't introduce many new ones at the senior level.
The view from outside glass house Australia28/01/2015
Complaints about hypocrisy are rarely edifying. But it's not so easy to dismiss the charge of a Jakarta Post opinion writer that Canberra is trying to save Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan from the firing squad 'while slowly disposing of abject bodies it does not want through inhumane detention camps or returning them to foreign regimes that will probably finish the job for them'.
Grieving pilgrim's wild days in the wilderness28/01/2015
Cheryl Strayed is haunted by her past - by her own sins, and by tragedies that have befallen her. As she walks, she hums, and the music she hears in her head leads her in and out of the past. Her solo 1600-plus km trek along America's Pacific Crest Trail is a metaphor for her life: each hardship she overcomes brings her a step closer to facing down the fierce regrets that gnash at her heels.
Obama misfires on Russian 'threat'27/01/2015
In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama drew rare bipartisan applause with his anti-Russian rhetoric when he said the US was 'upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small'. The Cold War ended 25 years ago, yet the desire to weaken Russia has never gone away. This is nonsense. Russia poses no threat to the west. It is just another country trying to make its own way in an unfriendly world.
Luther's flawed hardware decisions27/01/2015
Martin Luther was absolutely correct and right philosophically when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to a chapel door in Wittenberg. The Catholic Church was rife with greed and corruption and scandal and lies and theft and devious financial plots, as it still is, and probably always has been. But I maintain that Luther was utterly wrong and incorrect in his choice of tools.