More Than Just Bread

Why Humanitarian and Pakistani Icon Abdul Sattar Edhi Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

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When my daughter Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 my pride was immeasurable. The Huffington Post – Ziauddin Yousafzai, Father of Malala, global education activist The award has elevated the profile and importance of education for every girl and every child globally. This year, I believe Abdul Sattar Edhi – one of the greatest humanitarians of our time – deserves such an honour. He is one man who has turned his childhood vision into a living reality for millions of ... Read More »

Why I Am Not Orthodox

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Opinion The famous English philosopher and critic of religion, Bertrand Russell, gave a talk in London in 1927 entitled, “Why I Am Not a Christian.” Following Russell’s lead, I want here to outline why I have chosen to sever my ties with the Orthodox Church, after many years of participation in the church and reflection on its history and teachings. ABC Religion and Ethics – Nick Trakakis There is some value in providing such an outline, given the current rise ... Read More »

Where The Children Of War Sleep: Heartbreaking Images Show Syria’s Lost Generation

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Five years into the war in Syria, millions have fled in search of a safe place for their family to live. Award-winning photojournalist Magnus Wennman travelled around Europe and the Middle East to document where the displaced children of the refugee crisis are now calling home. Lamar, 5 years old, Horgos, Serbia Back home in Baghdad, the dolls, the toy train, and the ball are left; Lamar often talks about these items when home is mentioned. The bomb changed everything. The family ... Read More »

Moral Dispute or Cultural Difference?

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The Stone The word “relativism” tends to generate strong reactions. This is odd, given that the word is not generally used with a clear and agreed upon meaning. ””” The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless.””” The New York Times – By Carol Rovane  I want to offer a specific proposal about what it means, with a view to navigating the following “real-world” problem, discussed by Alex Rosenberg here at ... Read More »

In Iceland, a Literary Tour Explores Rich History

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Standing in the dark outside the Reykjavik public library in the relentless damp chill that comes with a light rain at 40 degrees, I kept trying to zip up my jacket. The charcoal sky was a shade lighter than the inky ocean a few blocks away, but it was noon, not twilight. I had a few minutes to bundle up before an outdoor walking tour on literary Iceland began. As if on cue, the zipper snapped off in my hand. ... Read More »

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 »