Society

Catholicism’s influence is very much alive in Ireland

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The faith still has significant public and private sway despite blows to the church A few years ago, Eugene O’Brien and I started work on a book of essays entitled Tracing the Cultural Legacy of Irish Catholicism: From Galway to Cloyne and Beyond. Eamon Maher The Irish Times We approached contributors from different disciplines and shades of opinion to provide as balanced an overview as possible of what is an emotive topic. The timespan covered in the book is revealed, somewhat obliquely, in ... Read More »

On Catalan independence, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden emerge as surprise backers

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Two Moscow-linked figures have emerged as the loudest voices on Twitter amplifying news and commentary about Catalonia’s secession referendum. Chris Zappone The Age Research independently confirmed by Fairfax Media shows Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange as well as former National Security Administrator contractor Edward Snowden now account for nearly a third of all Twitter traffic under the hashtag #… Assange has peppered his followers with more than 80 original tweets supporting the Catalan independence referendum, suggesting “the future ... Read More »

Angela’s ashes: 5 takeaways from the German election

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 24: (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image was converted from color to black and white) German Chancellor and Christian Democrat (CDU) Angela Merkel smiles after leaving her election party and reacting to initial results that give the party 33,1% of the vote, giving it a first place finish, in German federal elections on September 24, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Chancellor Merkel is seeking a fourth term and coming weeks will likely be dominated by negotiations between parties over the next coalition government. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

The next few years won’t be pretty Angela Merkel will remain German chancellor. That widely anticipated outcome was about the only unsurprising element of Sunday’s German election. Matthew Karnitschnig  Politico The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) finished much stronger than most observers dared predict, becoming the first unabashedly racist, anti-foreigner party to sit in Germany’s parliament since the days of Hitler. The Social Democrats (SPD) all but imploded, opting to go into opposition to lick their wounds rather than risk another ... Read More »

Catalan referendum: MSPs call for independence vote to go ahead

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Spanish authorities must allow a referendum on Catalan independence to go ahead, a cross-party group of MSPs has said as tensions in the province rise. PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS The Scotsman Parliamentarians from four parties have signed a letter to the Spanish government voicing “grave concern” at a widening crackdown against organisers of the referendum on 1 October, which Spain’s constitutional court has ruled is… The constitutional row has seen Catalan government officials arrested and control over devolved institutions taken by authorities ... Read More »

Auditor says he was forced to quit Vatican after finding irregularities

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The Vatican’s first auditor-general, who resigned without explanation in June, has broken his silence, saying he was forced to step down with trumped-up accusations after discovering evidence of possible illegal activity. Reuters Hurriyet Speaking to reporters from four media organizations including Reuters in the office of his lawyers in Rome, Libero Milone also said he believed that some in the Vatican wanted to slow down Pope Francis’s efforts at financial reform. He said he could not give details of the ... Read More »

What the stunning success of AfD means for Germany and Europe

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The radical right party profited from the fact immigration was the number one election issue. But can its breakthrough last? Cas Mudde The Guardian n 1991 Belgium had its (first) black Sunday, when the populist radical right Flemish Block gained 6.8% of the national vote. Since then many other western European countries have gone through a similar experience, from Denmark to Switzerland. And now, even the ever stable Germany has its own schwarzer Sonntag, and it’s blacker than most people ... Read More »

Why India’s farmers want to conserve indigenous heirloom rice

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India was once home to 100,000 rice varieties, but high-yield, less hardy hybrids have taken over encouraging farmers to safeguard more resistant strains Chitrangada Choudhury The Guardian India is rice country: the cereal provides daily sustenance for more than 60% of the population. Half a century ago, it was home to more than 100,000 ricevarieties, encompassing a stunning diversity in taste, nutrition, pest-resistance and, crucially in this age of climate change and natural disasters, adaptability to a range of conditions. Today, much of this biodiversity is ... Read More »

China’s audacious and inventive new generation of entrepreneurs

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Industries and consumers around the world will soon feel their impact “NEW era, new revolution. I am a MAKER, for the hearts of the dream.” The Economist So goes a rallying cry carved in giant letters on the wall of a warehouse in Shekou, a seaside enclave near Hong Kong. Many of China’s most promising entrepreneurs flocked there recently for a conference organised by TechCrunch, a technology publisher from Silicon Valley. Yet Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent—established Chinese internet giants collectively ... Read More »

Solidarity between good and justice keeps a society together

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Since ancient times, philanthropy or unconditional contribution, and reciprocity or retribution, such as “an eye for an eye,” have been and remain common human actions. SOKA University EurekAlert! Thus far, many researchers support the promotion of reciprocity and the suppression of philanthropism, as the latter is favorable to evil. However, Soka University researcher Isamu Okada and his collaborators Tatsuya Sasaki (University of Vienna) and Yutaka Nakai (Shibaura Institute of Technology) have found that the solidarity of philanthropism and reciprocity is ... Read More »

Whose interests? Why defining the ‘public interest’ is such a challenge

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The “public interest” is a political concept that’s regularly trotted out along with other democratic principles such as transparency and accountability. Jane Johnston  The Conversation And, like transparency and accountability, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what it means. Former NSW Ombudsman Chris Wheeler has pointed out: ”… while it is one of the most used terms in the lexicon of public administration, it is arguably the least defined and least understood … identifying or determining the appropriate public interest ... Read More »

Austria burqa ban: Government warns Muslim women to show faces in public or be fined

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Breach of new integration law will be punished with €150 fine Chris Baynes  The Independent The Austrian government has issued posters and leaflets threatening Muslim women with fines for wearing face veils ahead of the introduction of a controversial ban. The authorities launched the publicity drive to raise awareness of the legislation outlawing niqabs and burqas, which will come into force on 1 October. Under the new “integration” policy, anyone wearing clothes that obscure their face in public can be fined €150 (£132) ... Read More »

Exclusive: John Howard says the government needs to explain how it will protect religious freedoms on same-sex marriage

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Former prime minister John Howard has demanded that the rights of children not be forgotten in the same-sex marriage debate Speaking exclusively to 9NEWS from London, he also rejected Malcolm Turnbull’s assurances that a detailed debate about protecting religious freedoms can wait until after the postal vote on same-sex marriage is decided. Chris Uhlmann 9news Mr Howard said that if the postal survey returned a “yes” vote then the government would be stampeded into delivering change, so people needed answers ... Read More »

Ireland must devise a better, kinder way than direct provision

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‘Imagine your child locked in camps with endless rules, depressed and isolated’ My husband and I, with our four children, have been living as Nigerian asylum seekers in direct provision for three years and nine months. Christiana Obaro The fanatical Muslim group Boko Haram forced us to flee from two homes. Finally we had to flee the country. The Irish Times Throughout trouble and tragedy, my husband always struggled to give me and the children the best in life. He became one of the ... Read More »

Why we need the welfare state more than ever

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Shocked by the ‘poverty cycle’, British reformers created a safety net for casual workers. Now precarious working conditions are back, and the welfare state is under attack. By Chris Renwick The Guardian Tucked away behind York Minster – the grand cathedral adorned with medieval stained-glass windows that dominates the North Yorkshire city’s skyline – is a cobbled street that has become an informal labour exchange. Each day, just before lunch, couriers dressed in the distinctive mint green and black uniform ... Read More »

Production of shelf hydrocarbons to grow to 50 million tonnes by 2035

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By 2035, Russia may produce 22% of oil in the Arctic TYUMEN, September 21. /TASS/. Russian companies may produce 50 million tonnes of hydrocarbons on the shelf by 2035, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Energy Kirill Molodtsov told the Tyumen oil and gas forum on Thursday. “On the shelf we continue building up the production at the current fields,” he said. “The task is to produce about 50 million tonnes by 2035, while currently we produce about 28 million tonnes of ... Read More »

Explainer: what legal benefits do married couples have that de facto couples do not?

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Opponents of marriage equality often say that married and de facto couples already have the same rights To what extent is this true? Hannah Robert  Fiona Kelly  And, in legal terms, how much do the differences matter? The Conversation In an opinion piece last week, former prime minister Tony Abbott claimed: ”Already, indeed, same-sex couples in a settled domestic relationship have exactly the same rights as people who are married.” This isn’t true. At the most fundamental level, same-sex couples ... Read More »