Opinion

The problem with Puerto Rico

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Even before being wrecked by hurricane damage, Puerto Rico was a mess. Peter Roff The Washington Times Things were so out of control Congress and President Barack Obama took the extraordinary step of appointing an oversight board to take charge, hoping it would act decisively and prevent the Puerto Rican government from going broke. They’ve failed. What else is one to conclude now that a secret stash of money totaling almost $7 billion has been found, hidden away in private ... Read More »

Coral reefs inundated with billions of pieces of plastic

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More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are stuck in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an alarming new study. Tom Bawden The Scotsman The finding has raised concerns that the presence of so much plastic could considerably increase the risk of coral disease by blocking out light and depriving them of oxygen. The researchers estimate the increased chance of infection on the reefs affected could be as high as 89 per cent, in some… It is well ... Read More »

Inconvenient fact: Native title can only exist if Australia was settled, not invaded

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January is here and the invasion versus settlement debate is back making news headlines The Prime Minister wants to keep Australia Day as it is while the Greens are calling for the date to be changed Sherry Sufi * WAtoday We’ve all heard the generic talking points. Team ‘Invasion Day’ says 26 January is offensive to some Australians. Team ‘Australia Day’ says 26 January is a day for all Australians regardless. Yet there is a fundamental point which goes to ... Read More »

Erbil and Baghdad. Renewed coexistence in the near future?

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The boxer Mike Tyson famously said that “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Last week, I argued that Baghdad’s apparent plan for the Kurdistan Region was severe and hoped I was wrong. Gary Kent Rudaw There is now a new cautious optimism, which seems to flow from two factors that have so far stopped Baghdad delivering the knockout blow some seemed to have intended. First, despite its palpable pre-election divisions, the KRG has largely kept ... Read More »

Toxic plastic waste is returning from sea to poison us

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Wet wipes, straws and ‘mermaids’ tears’: Jane Bradley on the marine plastic epidemic that’s poisoning our food. Jane Bradley The Scotsman ‘Ohhhh, it’s garbage,” said the fresh-faced American tourist, clearly relieved to realise that the giant bags we were lugging onto Cramond promenade did not actually contain dead bodies. His expression changed and he looked us straight in the eye, in that sincere way that only Americans can. “I thank you,” he said. It was a freezing Saturday morning and ... Read More »

They Were Bad. He May Be Worse.

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Historians have long looked to a few key criteria in evaluating the beginning of a president’s administration Sean Wilentz The New York Times First and foremost, any new president should execute public duties with a commanding civility and poise befitting the nation’s chief executive, but without appearing aloof or haughty. As George Washington observed at the outset of his presidency in 1789, the president cannot in any way “demean himself in his public character” and must act “in such a ... Read More »

Why some of your old work commitments never seem to go away

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Study finds lingering effects of long-ended obligations EurekAlert! COLUMBUS, Ohio – You can quit work commitments if you want – but some of them never really leave you, new research suggests. In a study of 420 employees representing a wide variety of occupations and work settings at three organizations, researchers found that commitments that workers no longer had were still lingering in their minds. “It was clear to us that past commitments were still affecting employees,” said Howard Klein, lead ... Read More »

Employers should tap into a well of creative ideas from a diverse workforce

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One of my genuine wishes for 2018 is that Scotland can ably demonstrate to the world what a wonderfully rich and diverse workforce we have Lauren Brown * The Scotsman We will show how we can positively ­transcend individuals’ perceived barriers, break down prejudices and have a 100 per cent focus on equality in the workplace. I would encourage employers to see the far-reaching benefits of offering job opportunities to young, ­vulnerable and disadvantaged people who might otherwise have been ... Read More »

‘Just like show business’: why celebrities are taking over politics

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Whatever one thinks about Donald Trump, it’s hard to deny that his presidency – or what purports to be a presidency – is entertaining in the extreme. Norman Abjorensen Brisbane Times In fact, so pervasively entertaining is the 24-hour non-stop Trump show – a heady mix of feeble script, hilarious ad lib and the utterly gobsmacking tweet – that you have to wonder when he gets the time to govern (if he does it at all). Suddenly, reality TV, where ... Read More »

America is spiritually bankrupt

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We must fight back together The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt Cornel West The Guardian We live in one of the darkest moments in American history – a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black ... Read More »

The Daily Grind of Recycling

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Warm feelings about saving the planet have given way to the drudgery of sorting and rinsing and nagging from the government. Stephen L. Carter Bloomberg The other day, I had an epiphany: If recycling were not required by law, I probably wouldn’t bother. Okay, I’m a horrible person. But bear with me. In the wake of a blizzard, I was rolling the huge town-provided recycling bin to the curb for pickup. Downhill. Through the snow. On a steep driveway, imprecisely plowed. ... Read More »

Meet the theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence

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After this last tumultuous year of political rancor and racial animus, many people could well be asking what can sustain them over the next coming days: How do they make the space for self-care alongside a constant call to activism? Paul Harvey The Conversation Or, how do they turn off their phones, when there are more calls to be made and focus instead on inward cultivation? As a historian of American race and religion, I have studied how figures in ... Read More »

In My Chronic Illness, I Found a Deeper Meaning

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I became disabled overnight in a car accident. The car accident was a dream, but the disability was real. Elliot Kukla The New York Times I dreamed I was driving through the ravaged streets of Oakland, Calif., at the end of the world. I turned the corner and careened inescapably into a white chemical blaze. I woke with a start, the white flash still burning behind my eyes, the worst headache of my life piercing my left temporal lobe. I ... Read More »

Be afraid, be very afraid: North Korea’s long-term strategy

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The TV camera focuses on Kim Jong-un. “Fellow countrymen, I am determined to make sure that you have not endured your many sacrifices in vain,” he says. Bradley Martin Asia Times “We have forced the world to notice us and respect us, and now we need to translate that achievement into food, clothing and shelter for our long-suffering population. “Today, I am ordering military storehouses opened. We will distribute a million tons of war-reserve rice to our citizens, who need ... Read More »

Tom Arnold: How Ireland can influence the world

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We should place food and nutrition at the heart of our foreign policy Irish Ambassadors from around the globe will meet in Dublin next week to strategise on the direction of our foreign policy post-Brexit The Irish Times They will plan for changing Irish relationships with the UK, EU-26 and the wider international community, and identify opportunities for Irish influence at European and international level. It is difficult for a small country to carve out a distinctive policy position and ... Read More »

Emma Watson’s willingness to face the truth about race is refreshing

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I hope that the actor’s acknowledgment that she has benefited from being white will lead others to ask themselves hard questions too Lola Okolosie The Guardian Feminism, to quote bell hooks, is for everybody. It’s a simple enough statement. Utopian in its vision, it has however proved, for the very constituency who should have been most receptive to its premise – feminists – contentious. A simmering argument within the movement, along with debates about how far it has included working-class, LGBTQI ... Read More »