In early December, the nations of the world are poised to take an historic step forward on nuclear weapons. Yet most Australians still haven’t heard about what’s happening, even though Australia is an important part of this story – which is set to get even bigger in the months ahead.
The Saudi regime won’t like this magazine. Nor will the Western governments who kowtow to it while exploiting its wealth and paranoia – which have been on full show recently.
The Saudi justice ministry threatened to sue a Twitter user who compared the regime with ISIS after poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death ‘for spreading atheism and disrespecting the prophet’. This was met with an international #SueMeSaudi campaign.
On this day 70 years ago, the world and the preconditions for its health and survival changed forever. A crude bomb containing 60 kilograms of highly enriched uranium exploded 580 metres above Hiroshima. Equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT, it was 2000 times more powerful than the British Grand Slam bomb, the largest produced until then.
The moral threshold of catastrophic attacks with indiscriminate weapons had already been crossed, with poison gas killing 90,000 and maiming or blinding one million men in the European killing fields of the first world war. This was followed by indiscriminate aerial bombing of cities during the second world war.
With the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the era of the Cold War seems more remote than ever. The Iron Lady was in her penultimate year of office when the Berlin Wall came down, and with it decades of the enveloping fear that at any moment a global nuclear exchange might end the world. That was nearly a quarter of a century ago. In that time, the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons has been almost entirely displaced by another. I speak, of course, of climate change, the great ‘inconvenient truth’ and ‘moral challenge’ of the times in which we find ourselves. Where once the emblematic colour of this fear was red, it is now green. An overarching sense of anxiety remains, with ecological catastrophe having replaced a hail of Soviet nuclear warheads as the principal nightmare. Continue reading →
Now that media coverage has died down following the tragic loss of life at the Ain Amenas natural gas complex in Algeria, it’s a good time to reflect on the way in which the story has been relayed to us by the mainstream media. In essence we’ve been given a picture like this:
• Good hard-working men and women from around the world have been slogging away in harsh conditions deep in the Sahara, helping to secure the world’s energy reserves at the natural gas complex in Algeria.
• Despite the best efforts of all nations participating in the global war on terror, the attempt to contain militants linked to al-Qaida had failed. A group of terrorists was able to storm the Ain Amenas gas complex and take a large number of hostages.
• In order to stop the terrorists from escaping and disappearing into the Sahara, Algerian forces attacked the gas complex, resulting in the death of more than 30 hostages and at least 20 militants.
• The US has had its hands tied in combating the rise of extremist militants in the region because few nations have been prepared to admit US forces onto their soil because of fears of loss of sovereignty.
But is there more to the story? Heartbreaking experience shows that we need to have our hypocrisy antennae fully extended and tuned whenever the war on terror is involved.