Saturday, November 21, 2015

Global opinion is against Australia. Do we know how far we've fallen?

Paola Totaro The Guardian November 19, 2015

A change of leadership has calmed things down at home, but abroad Australia is still seen as the lucky, rich, cruel country. Perhaps it’s time to revisit our history

There was a time, not so long ago, when being Australian brought with it a frisson of pride and, dare I say it, quiet superiority.

Young, modern, proudly multicultural, we saw ourselves as a nation of free thinkers, open minded and open hearted about sexual orientation and race.

As travelers to Europe and the UK, there was a sense of great freedom and smugness being an Aussie: class differences? Pfft, not us. And have you seen the size of Sydney’s Mardi Gras? Migrants brought the best food and coffee in the world – from Italy to Vietnam, Greece to Iran. You name it, we’ve got it. (OK, sport hasn’t always been a source of national pride.)

If you were an immigrant kid growing up in Australia, life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses but you could be sure that someone would quickly take your place as the underdog in the playground. First it was the Chinese then the Italians and Greeks, then came the Vietnamese and Cambodians who were followed by the Lebanese and Pacific Islanders who were followed by … well, you get the picture.

A nation built on wave after wave of immigration, Australia was quick to acknowledge and respond to the roadblocks of systemic discrimination. It’s easy to forget that in 1978, the New South Wales became the first state to launch a Commission of Inquiry (disclaimer – led by my dad) to root out built-in obstacles and replace them with policies to promote harmony and diversity…………

Australia’s human rights policies were last week singled out for criticism by no fewer than 100 countries, 61 of them focusing on Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum. Among them are key allies including the US, the UK, Germany and France…….

Perhaps it is time not only to remind ourselves of the stultifying effects of our geographic isolation but to demand an end to the kind of expedient foreign and immigration policy that allows both sides of politics to wreak such damage on society itself.

In 2015, the inescapable fact is that there are close to 60 million displaced men, women and children seeking a home. Of course as Australians, it matters how we are perceived by the rest of the world. But what we choose to do matters much, much more.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dom Christian's Testament A French monk on his murder by terrorists

James Martin, SJ America November 14, 2015

Dom Christian de Chergé was one of the Trappist monks killed by extremists at the Monastery of Notre Dame of Atlas in Tibhirine, Algeria, in 1996, by terrorists identifying themselves as the ‘Armed Islamic Groups.’ (Their story was told in the film ‘Of Gods and Men.’) Dom Christian and the other Trappist martyrs knew that by remaining in Tibhirine, in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the country who also faced terrorism and violence, they might be called upon to offer their lives. This is in stark contrast to the terrible plight of those who died in Paris yesterday, whose lives were taken from them forcibly……….

Testament of Dom Christian de Chergé (Opened on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1996)

Facing a GOODBYE ...

If it should happen one day—and it could be today—that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country………

I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity.

My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood.

I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down……….

I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder…………..

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately.

I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters.

It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists…………….

May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both.


Algiers, 1st December 1993
Tibhirine, 1st January 1994

Christian +

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Henry A. Giroux Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning

‘Within the last thirty years, the United States under the reign of market fundamentalism has been transformed into a society that is more about forgetting than learning, more about consuming than producing, more about asserting private interests than democratic rights.’
Henry A. Giroux Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education

‘In an alleged democracy, the image of the public sphere with its appeal to dialogue and shared responsibility has given way to the spectacle of unbridled intolerance, ignorance, seething private fears, unchecked anger, along with the decoupling of reason from freedom. … What this decline in civility, the emergence of mob behavior …suggests is that we have become one of the most illiterate nations on the planet. I don't mean illiterate in the sense of not being able to read … The new illiteracy is about more than learning how to read the book or the word; it is about learning how not to read the world. … As a result of this widespread illiteracy that has come to dominate American culture we have moved from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting, and in doing so have restaged politics and power in both unproductive and anti-democratic ways.’
Henry A. Giroux

‘We live in a time that demands a discourse of both critique and possibility, one that recognizes that without an informed citizenry, collective struggle, and viable social movements, democracy will slip out of our reach and we will arrive at a new stage of history marked by the birth of an authoritarianism that not only disdains all vestiges of democracy but is more than willing to relegate it to a distant memory.’
Henry A. Giroux Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism

‘Children have fewer rights than almost any other group and fewer institutions protecting these rights. Consequently, their voices and needs are almost completely absent from the debates, policies, and legislative practices that are constructed in terms of their needs.’

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why Aboriginal people with disabilities crowd Australia’s prisons

Eileen Baldry, Elizabeth McEntyre, Ruth McCausland The Conversation November 2, 2015

Research released today shows Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability are ‘managed’ by police, courts and prisons due to a lack of appropriate community-based services.

Australia imprisons thousands of Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability each year. A widespread lack of understanding – and action – underpins this shameful breach of human rights.

The number of people in Australian prisons recently reached an all time high of 33,791, with 27% or 9,264 of those prisoners identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. People with mental and cognitive disability who are poor, disadvantaged, and Aboriginal are overrepresented in this increase.

To clarify, mental disabilities include disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, personality disorders and psychosis. People can experience these for a short time or throughout their lives. While cognitive disability covers impairments such as intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, dementia and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). These are ongoing impairments in comprehension, reason, judgement, learning or memory.

A predictable path

A study we released today shows how Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability are being ‘managed’ by police, courts and prisons due to a dire lack of appropriate community-based services and support.

The Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System (IAMHDCD) Project draws on a unique data set of 2,731 people who’ve been imprisoned in New South Wales, which holds more than a third of Australia’s prison population. A quarter of people in the data set are Indigenous……………

We found Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability are forced into the criminal justice system early in life. Coming from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, they receive little support from community and disability services or the education system.

These people are often seen as badly behaved or too hard to control, and left to police to manage. While this also applies to non-Indigenous people with disability from disadvantaged backgrounds, we found it’s much more serious for Indigenous people.

Indigenous people in the group we studied were 2.6 times more likely to have been in out-of-home care as children……………….

Four key drivers

Our research shows four major issues underlie these shocking statistics:

1. People don’t understand what cognitive disability is…………..

2. High levels of stress in some Aboriginal communities ………….

3. Many Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system have ‘complex support needs’………..

4. A lack of appropriate support for Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability……………

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Pope Francis says Oscar Romero faced ‘slander’ from clergy

Pilgrims carry a portrait of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero to Romero's beatification ceremony in San Salvador, El Salvador, in May. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

By Inés San Martín CRUX October 30, 2015

In a signal that sainthood for Latin America’s most famous contemporary martyr may not be far off, Pope Francis on Friday praised El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero and said his suffering continued after his 1980 assassination in the form of unjustified ‘slander.’

‘He was defamed, slandered, his memory despoiled, and his martyrdom was continued, even by his own brothers in the priesthood and the episcopacy,’ Francis said, in unusually blunt remarks to a delegation from El Salvador visiting Rome.

Romero was shot to death in 1980 while celebrating Mass, during a period of social revolt fueled by poverty and abuses of power. He was beatified in May 2015 in San Salvador, in one of the largest religious gatherings in the history of Central America.

Romero’s death helped trigger a bloody civil war that went on from 1980 to 1992, with fighting between Communist guerrillas and a US-backed right-wing military government, reaching a death toll of more than 75,000 people.

In the years since his death, many critics, including some senior Latin American prelates and Vatican officials, argued that Romero wasn’t killed for his faith but for political reasons, pointing to his opposition to a right-wing Salvadorian government accused of widespread human rights abuses……. ‘It’s nice to also remember him like this: a man who continues his martyrdom,’ Francis said, straying from his prepared remarks. ‘[Romero is] a man who, after having given his life, [was] continuously whipped by incomprehension and calumnies.’

‘How many times those who have given their lives continue being struck with the hardest stone there is: The tongue!’ the pope said, before leading the group in a prayer.

No one has ever been prosecuted for Romero’s assassination, but in 1993 a United Nations investigation concluded a right-wing politician with links to El Salvador’s military orchestrated the attack………………

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