More Than Just Bread

No laughing matter as Andrew Denton returns from hiatus to talk about dying

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Andrew Denton first met Ray Godbold around a year ago. So did I. We each came down to Inverloch, independently, for his story. The Age – Konrad Marshall, Senior writer Ray was a brilliant palliative care nurse, struck down by terminal gastro-oesophageal cancer. As a medical professional he knew the often nasty and tactile way our lives can end, and as an activist he took a stand by going public in sourcing an illegal drug to hasten his own death and ... Read More »

We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s the proof

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Stories of greed and ego bombard us. But a new study shows that humans are inherently good The Guardian – George Monbiot, @GeorgeMonbiot Do you find yourself thrashing against the tide of human indifference and selfishness? Are you oppressed by the sense that while you care, others don’t? That, because of humankind’s callousness, civilisation and the rest of life on Earth are basically stuffed? If so, you are not alone. But neither are you right. A study by the Common Cause ... Read More »

Why Active Euthanasia is Quite Different to Current Medical Practices (Despite What Some People Say)

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Submissions have now closed to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life choices and their report is due next May. Over 900 submissions were received (viewable here). Ethos – Denise Cooper-Clarke In a public hearing held by the inquiry, pro-euthanasia advocate Julian Savulescu argued that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legalised because they are not morally different from two currently morally and legally accepted medical practices, namely the administration of pain relief which might foreseeably shorten life (but ... Read More »

The genetics of intelligence: Ethics and the conduct of trustworthy research

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Hastings Center special report examines controversies in research on the genetics of intelligence and recommends ways for it to avoid the ‘vortex of classicism and racism.’ The Hastings Center – EurekAlert! With the advent of new genomic sequencing technologies, researchers around the world are working to identify genetic variants that help explain differences in intelligence. Can such findings be used to improve education for all, as some scientists believe? Or are they likely to have a chilling effect on programs ... Read More »

Julian Burnside: What sort of country are we?

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This piece is based on the 2015 Hamer Oration, delivered by Julian Burnside on September 28, 2015. The Conversation – Julian Burnside, Adjunct Professor, Australian Catholic University  Disclosure statement: Julian Burnside is a patron of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. He does not accept any fees when acting for asylum seekers, and any offers of payment for other services in this area are politely declined. It was with some surprise that I found myself engaged in such a hotly political ... Read More »

Greece could sure use a philosopher-king right about now

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Plato’s paradox As Greece approaches yet another election—its fifth in six years—the country’s philosophical forefathers can only be smirking. QUARTZ – Written by Mark Y. Rosenberg Plato and his teacher Socrates famously warned about the pitfalls of democracy: social disorder, economic turmoil and, eventually, a disillusioned turn towards tyranny. As governments based on the will of the masses lurch from one shortsighted policy to another, representatives fall prey to avarice. Democracy, in short, is inherently vulnerable to populism—which inevitably leads ... Read More »

The Rubble of Palmyra

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ISIS did not merely blast apart old stones—it attacked the very foundations of pluralistic society. The Atlantic Leon Wieseltier If the ruined ruins of Palmyra could speak, they would marvel at our shock. After all, they have been sacked before. In their mute and shattered eloquence, they spoke for centuries not only about the cultures that built them but also about the cultures that destroyed them—about the fragility of civilization itself, even when it is incarnated in stone. No designation ... Read More »

Antigone, a Greek tragedy plays out in Paris and Melbourne – review

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ABC – A war-time incident that pitted the authority of the state against a community’s need to mourn their dead is the real life backdrop for two updated versions of the Greek tragedy Antigone. One is slightly sentimental, the other is great, unforgiving theatre, writes Alison Croggon. Last month, a grim drama played out on the Habur border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. Amid simmering tensions between Ankara and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a truck carrying the bodies of 13 ... Read More »

Mauritania anti-slavery law welcomed by campaigners

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BBC – Campaigners have welcomed Mauritania’s new anti-slavery law which makes the offence a “crime against humanity”. It has also doubled the prison term for offenders to 20 years. Activists hope the law will encourage more slaves to take legal action to secure their freedom and will encourage the courts to punish slave owners. Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981, but activists say it is still widely practised and many in the West African country inherit their slave status. BBC Africa ... Read More »

Serco and Border Force bring cruety to new levels

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The cruelty and indifference of Serco and Border Force continue to astound. By Julian Burnside Mojgan Shamsalipoor was taken out of her class at school in Brisbane and was taken into detention. She was marched out of the school, in front of her horrified classmates, by a bunch of Border Force people. Although she and her husband (a permanent resident) live in Brisbane, she was taken to detention at Wickham Point in Darwin. A Darwin lawyer agreed to try and ... Read More »

The immoral housing bubble

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Letter from London Britain’s property market is an enemy of democracy. Politico – By Amol Rajan LONDON — I don’t know how many readers of POLITICO have had the misfortune to try buying a house in London over the past few months — as I have (and am still doing) — but short of war, famine and Donald Trump’s company, a less pleasant experience could hardly be imagined. Aside from the joylessness of dealing with estate agents, paying surveyor’s fees of thousands of ... Read More »

Cancer patient becomes Colombia’s first legal euthanasia case

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A 79-year old Colombian man has become the first person in the country to die legally by euthanasia. BBC – Ovidio Gonzalez was suffering from terminal throat cancer and said he had been suffering unbearable pain. Colombia’s Catholic Church has said euthanasia is morally unacceptable and it has threatened to close its hospitals across the country. Colombia is one of the few countries in the world, and the only one in Latin America, where euthanasia is allowed. Assisted suicide was ... Read More »

Andrew Wilkie Blasts The Liberal And Labor Parties, Calls Australia’s Refugee Policy “A Crime Against Humanity”

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Last night the government, with the support of the Opposition, rushed a bill through Parliament’s House of Representatives specifically designed to fend off an impending High Court challenge that could have ruled Australia’s offshore processing regime illegal. Junkee – By Alex McKinnon, The Human Rights Law Centre is challenging offshore processing in court on the basis that Australia doesn’t have the authority to detain people in other countries, or to put money towards that purpose. In response, the government has drafted ... Read More »

Buddhists and Catholics travel to the Vatican to talk about the ‘mystery of life’

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Representatives from the Buddhist and Catholic communities in the US are holding an interreligious dialogue this week near Rome and will meet with Pope Francis today. The five-day meeting, which began on Tuesday is on the subject of ‘Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity’. Christian Today – Lucinda Borkett-Jones The 46 American representatives have gathered at the headquarters of the Focolare movement near Rome, a predominantly Catholic movement which does also have members from other faiths, including Buddhism. The delegates have come ... Read More »

Millions across India, world take part in Yoga Day exercises

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Millions of yoga enthusiasts bent and twisted their bodies in complex postures across India and much of the world on June 21 to mark the first International Yoga Day. NEW DELHI – The Associated Press – Hurriyet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had lobbied the U.N. to declare June 21 as the global Yoga Day, spread his mat among rows of people, including his Cabinet members and foreign diplomats, at New Delhi’s main thoroughfare that has been transformed into ... Read More »

Classics for the people – why we should all learn from the ancient Greeks

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The dazzling thought-world of the Greeks gave us our ideas of democracy and happiness. Yet learning classics tends to be restricted to the privileged few. It’s time for ‘elitist dinosaurs’ to embrace a citizens’ classics for all The Guardian – Edith Hall Just how special were the ancient Greeks? Was there really a Greek “miracle”? The question has become painfully politicised. Critics of colonialism and racism tend to play down the specialness of the ancient Greeks. Those who maintain that ... Read More »