December 12th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: The challenges facing Tony Abbott

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Abbott's victory took media by surprise

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Senate committee recommends against same-sex marriage

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Euthanasia bill defeated in SA

ENVIRONMENT: UK's climate research centre discredited

ECONOMICS: Birdsville Amendment stops fuel predatory pricing

ENERGY: Time for a new Coalition emissions policy

THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION: U.S. Christian leaders draw a line in the sand

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Women's health risk ignored by Rudd Government

UNITED STATES: Health care reforms unleash passionate debate

RUSSIA: Medvedev's desperate drive to modernise Russia

EDUCATION: Whatever happened to adult authority?

SCHOOLS: Are independent schools enemies of social cohesion?

Westmore has not read my report: Fr Frank Brennan

Morally handicapped politicians

Market economics misunderstood

Surafend massacre


CINEMA: Dickens' Christmas tale brought to life A Christmas Carol (rated PG)

BOOK REVIEW: FIRES OF FAITH: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, by Eamon Duffy

BOOK REVIEW: THE REVOLT OF THE PENDULUM: Essays 2005-2008, by Clive James

Books promotion page


News Weekly, December 12, 2009
Tough love

"No" is the most important word a child will ever hear, and if he doesn't hear it often enough then he will be well on the way to a feral adulthood.

Statistically, "no" is much more likely to be said in a stable, married family, the kind we are fast abolishing. Divorced parents and step-parents can be manipulated into undermining each other. Paid strangers will do anything for a quiet life.

As a result, there is a disastrous and widespread model of child-rearing that combines soppy indulgence with neglect. So many children now come into the schools who have not been civilised (or even house-trained in some cases) that it is quite unreasonable to expect teachers to fix the problem. It is too big.

The children of today are paying a horrible price for the selfishness that led to off-the-peg divorce and the dismantling of all the forces that kept the family together.

Extract from Peter Hitchens, "NO! The most important word that a child will ever hear", Mail on Sunday (UK), November 14, 2009.


"Medicalising" terrrorism

When the Muslim American Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, he did not just murder his military colleagues: he killed the American illusion that "it couldn't happen here". And he unleashed an argument not just on practical topics such as racial profiling but on the much wider question of how much America's foreign policy decisions - how it should conduct itself in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example - should be influenced by the feelings of minority groups within the US itself.

This dispute revolves around the personality of Major Hasan: was he just an unbalanced individual for whom Islamic fundamentalism was nothing more than a delusional pretext for a psychotic break?

This account has gained favour in Leftwing American circles for fairly obvious reasons: it allows Islamic fundamentalism to become simply an unwitting accomplice to the act, rather than its actual cause, and the act itself to be seen as a random, unreasoning crime rather than a terrorist attack. No big national problem here: just a nutter whose instability should have been spotted sooner but whose religious-cum-political "motives" can be ignored.

According to commentators on the Right, such as Charles Krauthammer, this thesis is a pernicious attempt to "medicalise" Major Hasan's crime in the interests of avoiding any implication that there was a meaningful connection between his Islamic religious beliefs and his act. By defining the act as literally meaningless (insane), defenders of the liberal orthodoxy are not taxed by the problem of how to deal with a possibly murderous minority within their own country.

Extract from by Janet Daley, "Home-grown terrorism: our values are not optional for minority groups", The Telegraph (UK), November 28, 2009.


American soldiers in Afghanistan could face prosecution

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "great regret" in August that the U.S. is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This has fuelled speculation that the Obama Administration may reverse another Bush policy and sign up for what could lead to the trial of Americans for war crimes in The Hague.

The ICC's chief prosecutor, though, has no intention of waiting for Washington to submit to the court's authority. Luis Moreno Ocampo says he already has jurisdiction - at least with respect to Afghanistan. …

Asked repeatedly whether the examination of bombings and torture allegations refers to NATO and U.S. soldiers, Mr Ocampo finally stated that "we are investigating whoever commits war crimes, including the group you mentioned". …

Mr Ocampo - who has a photo of himself with the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, on his windowsill - could have pointed out to his Arab interlocutors that the real double standard was their own complaining about alleged Western aggression against Muslims while they protect Sudan's Bashir, the greatest butcher of Muslims in modern history. The fact that Mr. Ocampo mentioned the Sudanese perpetrator of genocide in the same breath with alleged crimes of NATO soldiers shed light on what the International Criminal Court may have in store for the U.S. in the future.

Extract from Daniel Schwammenthal, "Prosecuting American ‘war crimes'", The Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2009.

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