September 4th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Labor's federal election debacle

EDITORIAL: A new deal for rural Australia?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Can the independents agree on a policy agenda?

QUARANTINE: WTO rules in favour of NZ apples

NATIONAL SECURITY: Significance of Abu Bakar Bashir's arrest

CHINA I: Beijing's bid to turn the South China Sea into a Chinese lake

CHINA II: Do China's upheavals herald liberalisation?

ISLAM: What the West must demand of Muslims

NATIONAL MARRIAGE DAY: Why we need a renewed culture of natural marriage

OPINION: Choosing sex, the next great leap in selfish parenting

CHILDHOOD: Children at risk from internet pornography

EDUCATION: Seeking truth in the electronic age

POLITICAL FUNDING: Secular left's cynical use of religion

Population debate (letter)

Annual abortion tally (letter)

Why handicap language with political correctness? (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Financial recovery falters / Digital device over-use may cause brain fatigue / Young people not maturing to adulthood / US withdrawal from Iraq

BOOK REVIEW: BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas

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Financial recovery falters / Digital device over-use may cause brain fatigue / Young people not maturing to adulthood / US withdrawal from Iraq

News Weekly, September 4, 2010
Financial recovery falters

The global bond markets and the twin havens of the yen and Swiss franc have been flashing warning signs for weeks, tracking leading indicators as they topple like dominoes. They always sniff trouble first.

Wall Street and Western bourses have until now brushed aside worries that recovery in the US, Japan and southern Europe may be stalling - as have commodity markets - betting the lords of finance will come to the rescue with more liquidity if needed.

Equity investors learned this week that they had misjudged the risk of a relapse as fiscal stimulus wears off, and misread the willingness of the US Federal Reserve to respond. ...

More ominously, some Fed officials fear the central bank is already "pushing on a string" and does not have the means to revive the economy.

Extract from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, "Hard-nosed Fed sends global markets reeling", The Telegraph (UK), August 24, 2010.


Digital device over-use may cause brain fatigue

At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.

The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn.

"Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it's had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories," said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specialises in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, "you prevent this learning process".

Extract from Matt Richtel, "Digital devices deprive brain of needed downtime", New York Times, August 24, 2010.


Young people not maturing to adulthood

We're in the thick of what one sociologist calls "the changing timetable for adulthood". Sociologists traditionally define the "transition to adulthood" as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.

In 1960, 77 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early '70s.

Extract from Robin Marantz Henig, "What is it about 20-somethings?", New York Times Magazine, August 22, 2010.


US withdrawal from Iraq

The last combat brigade has pulled out of Iraq. There are still 50,000 American troops there, but their purpose is nation-building, which in the context means training the Iraqi army and police force. This, at a time when the deadlock persists between two rivals who both claim to have won the general election and so have the right to be prime minister. Neither looks like giving way, which is the classic setting for the resort to force.

And worse still, within the last week, a suicide bomber attacked an army recruiting office, killing some 40 young men and wounding over 100 more. Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Iranians are certain to be preparing for whatever level of violence they calculate will give them a hold on the political process. Plenty of evidence exists about Iran's surreptitious arming of proxies in Iraq.

The senior Iraqi general, no less, has just made a statement that he would like American forces to remain in the country until 2020.

Extract from David Pryce-Jones, "A risky move", David Calling blog, August 19, 2010.

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