More Than Just Bread

Fifteen years after looting, thousands of artefacts are still missing from Iraq’s national museum

On April 10 2003, the first looters broke into the National Museum of Iraq. Staff had vacated two days earlier, ahead of the advance of US forces on Baghdad. Craig Barker The Conversation The museum was effectively ransacked for the next 36 hours until employees returned. While the staff – showing enormous bravery and foresight – had removed and safely stored 8,366 artefacts before the looting, some 15,000 objects were taken during that 36 hours. While 7,000 items have been ... Read More »

What King, Kennedy, Obama’s great speeches have in common

Two of history’s great rhetoricians – Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy – were assassinated 50 years ago. Their words have resonance today, writes Benjamin Ramm. Benjamin Ramm BBC Popular volumes of great speeches celebrate the mastery of the art of persuasion. These tomes are full of rhetorical flourishes, of stirring appeals to universal ideals, with elevated cadences and effortless assurances. But two of the most significant rhetoricians of the 20th Century, both of whom were assassinated 50 ... Read More »

Everyday heroes compelled to break the law when government fails to protect us

What does it say about the state of our democracy when it falls upon everyday people to stop a billionaire building the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere? Julian Burnside * The Sydney Morning Herald And what does it say about our politicians that they will let Adani’s mine proceed when the vast majority of Australians don’t want it, and scientists are urging us to keep coal in the ground to avoid more dangerous climate change? This month, nine ... Read More »

Time running out to save the Earth’s plants and animals

Five new reports unveiled at a UN biodiversity summit in Colombia are sounding the alarm over the rapidly deteriorating state of biodiversity on our planet. Dave Keating DW But they also provide the tools to fight back. Delegates at a major international summit on biodiversity in Medellín, Colombia have been rattled after being presented with stark new evidence about the state of the world’s biodiversity. The 750 delegates from 115 countries are meeting for the sixth plenary of the Intergovernmental ... Read More »

An American Imam Talks Islam and Money

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf came to America as a child, and learned that prosperity presented its own religious riddles. WealthSimple Feisal Abdul Rauf is a longtime Imam, public intellectual and the author of numerous books about Islam’s place in the West, including What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right with America. There’s a passage in the Bible that says it is more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a ... Read More »

The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself

It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place. Tim Dean The Conversation But when it comes to pinning down a single greatest moral challenge of our time, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much. In fact, ... Read More »

Should you send a text or email? Here’s some advice from Aristotle

Suppose you want to get in touch with a friend. Once, your options for doing so might have been sparse: pick up the phone or write a letter. Alexis Elder The Conversation But these days, you have to decide: Should you call or text, use Snapchat, or reach out on Twitter, Messenger or Skype? Other considerations, whether it’s an old friend or new acquaintance, or whether you’re asking a favor or checking in, as well as your own conversational tendencies ... Read More »

From bacteria to Bach, the origins of culture

Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, is one of the… Nathan Gardels The Washington Post WorldPost: I first heard your name when the cellist YoYo Ma told me about your book “Descartes’ Error,” which he said helped answer some key questions he had about how virtuosity and creativity come about in music — not by reason alone but through the… Antonio Damasio: When I think of “Descartes’ Error” today, almost 25 years ... Read More »

Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide

How do we make sense of today’s political divisions? In a wide-ranging conversation full of insight, historian Yuval Harari places our current turmoil in a broader context, against the ongoing disruption of our technology, climate, media — even our notion of what humanity is for. Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide ( Video ) This is the first of a series of TED Dialogues, seeking a thoughtful response to escalating political divisiveness. Make time (just over an hour) for ... Read More »

Who Owns the Elgin Marbles?

“They were created in a short time for all time. Each one of them, in its beauty, was even then and at once antique, but in the freshness of its vigor it is, even to the present day, recent and newly wrought.” Patricia Vigderman The New York Times Thus Plutarch described the buildings on the Acropolis as a showcase of Periclean Athens. Although he was writing half a millennium after the Parthenon was built, he touched on the essence of ... Read More »

Barack Obama wants you to read this book on making smarter decisions

Former President recommends Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which could reshape how you make decisions Chris Weller Business Insider Independent Four years ago, a few months before he was re-elected, President Barack Obama read a book on the science of decision-making that he now considers one of his favourites. The book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, features insights into the pitfalls of human rationality that might just transform how you think about intelligence. Obama’s recommendation comes alongside nine other books on ... Read More »

Mitsutoki Shigeta: ‘Baby factory’ dad wins paternity rights

A Bangkok court has awarded paternity rights to a Japanese man over 13 babies he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. BBC The ruling allows Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, to pursue custody of the children. The son of a wealthy entrepreneur, he caused controversy in 2014 when he was revealed to have fathered 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand. His so-called “baby factory” case and others led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners. Mr Shigeta, who was not present at the ... Read More »

Capitalism isn’t an ideology — it’s an operating system

Bhu Srinivasan researches the intersection of capitalism and technological progress. Today’s TED Talk Instead of thinking about capitalism as a firm, unchanging ideology, he suggests that we should think of it as an operating system — one that needs upgrades to keep up with innovation, like the impending take-off of drone delivery services. Learn more about the past and future of the free market (and a potential coming identity crisis for the United States’ version of capitalism) with this quick, ... Read More »

Emotional intelligence: What it is and why you need it

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Travis Bradberry World Economic Forum This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. Emotional ... Read More »

Meet the theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence

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 »

Mystic Mantra: Swami Rama Tirtha and his secret law

Talking on the phenomenon of happiness and contentment, Osho introduced a certain law that only some mystics have known. Swami Chaitanya Keerti The Asian Age Swami Rama Tirtha was a mystic saint of India who travelled to the US, preceded by Swami Vivekananda, during the last century. He was a great teacher of practical vedanta who used to call himself Baadshah Ram, Emperor Ram, even though he had renounced his family and all worldly belongings. It is reported that somebody ... Read More »