Don’t Follow the Americans

An interesting plea here from Professor Steven Ward, Professor of Sociology at Western Connecticut State University (the origin is important here), for Australia, and other countries around the world, to not blindly follow the supposed wonder of the American higher education sector as the Minister for Education seems determined to foist upon students here in Australia.

Looking at his article I can definitely see why Australia shouldn’t follow the Americans on this issue…


Ending the Age of Entitlement

Michelle Grattan takes a look at the proposal from the Productivity Commission for an overhaul to the financial arrangements connected to the Child Care system in Australia. While some might argue that the inclusion of nannies in the mix is a nod to the kind of people that the Prime Minister is courting with this overhaul, the suggestion that all rebates and subsidies associated with child care be means tested – a wonderful suggestion I feel – presents some very real political issues for the Prime Minister and the current Federal Government.

And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group…


The Rise of ISIS

Anyone who reads a newspaper or watches the television news programs would be well aware of the existence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or just simply the Islamic State) and the declaration of the new caliphate, with all that goes along with that.

The only difficulty with the declaration of such an entity – which is hotly disputed among many Islamic scholars – is that the Islamic State doesn’t act like any historical caliphate, and treats the people in the areas under its control in manner that is at odds with accepted Islamic principles. The caliphate acts in ways that are barbaric towards Christians, Jews, and even Muslims who they adjudge as not being Islamic enough, all of which are contrary to the teachings of Islam, and as such there can be no legitimacy for the Islamic State, and their actions should rightly be condemned as the acts of barbarians and terrorists.

Christians in the areas under the control of ISIS are facing a particular threat: they have been told to convert, or to leave, or to pay a special tax or prepare to be killed. Their houses have been identified by the application of a symbol (as pictured) despite their protected status in Islam as “People of the Book” (along with Jewish people). This action is religious cleansing pure and simple and must be condemned and resisted by the world.


The Trouble With Gaza

For days I’ve been struggling with how best to respond to the current and ongoing crisis in the Holy Land, by which I mean the violence visited by the State of Israel on the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, and the violence visited by Hamas guerrillas upon the State of Israel from within the Gaza Strip. Part of the struggle has been one associated with the oft heard response to any criticism of Israeli policies, i.e. a fear that I would be labelled anti-Semitic because I took exception to the way in which the State of Israel is conducting itself.

And so, in that light and before I go any further, I state the following:

  • I support and respect the right of the State of Israel to exist.
  • I support and respect the right of the State of Israel to defend itself.
  • I support and respect the right of the Palestinian people to their own State.

There is a severe power differential between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip (and other land under the control of the Palestinian state-entity (however described)): the Israeli Defence Forces are highly resourced, high technological military forces, while their opponents are not. This would seem to suggest, at least to me, that the response of the State of Israel, via the IDF, should be more measured than what it appears to currently be. The deliberate targeting of the civilian population – men, women, and children – and civilian infrastructure – hospitals, houses, schools, etc – is simply immoral. That this targeting seems to be random and reckless only heightens the immoral nature of the actions on the part of the State of Israel.

The State of Israel, if it continues to follow its current policy with regard to the Gaza Strip, runs the danger of becoming an international pariah state.

On the other hand, the guerrillas of Hamas would do well to act in a manner that is less focused on perpetrating violence and more on engaging with the world in a way that demonstrates their desire to be recognised as the legitimate State of Palestine. For as long as they continue with acts of violence (which the State of Israel always refers to as “acts of terror”) then the State of Israel will continue to respond with violence which, given the severe power differential, only impacts on the innocent and defenceless.


Is The Pope A Communist?

Well, probably not – unless you believe the likes of some right-wing leaning economic theorists who think that unbridled capitalism and unfettered market economics are the only way in which the generation of capital and wealth can be generated. Pope Francis on the other hand focuses on the needs of human beings and calls for an equitable distribution of wealth and material possessions so that everyone can live a life worthy of one created in the image and likeness of God.

So perhaps the Pope isn’t a communist. Perhaps communists are actually Christian…


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