Enjoy free internet news while you can… (updated 7pm)

This is something that may see a lot of change in the coming decade.

Today's Moir cartoon

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald is a trifle thin, as is the wont at this time of year, but it does have quite a lot of interest in it. Like everyone I am giving thought to what motivates people like the young Nigerian who attempted to blow up the Delta Airlines flight. There is an interesting article on that, and I fear that I even agree with Miranda Devine today!

Liked Elizabeth Farrelly too:

…Christianity has brought good (see above) but also evil (crusades, witch-hunts, child abuse, homophobia, Iraq and McMansions). This mix – if I really have to state the bleeding obvious – has nothing to do with God and everything to do with humans.

Further, although we live, thank God, in a mixed and secular state, the ethical roots of what we fondly call our ”civilisation” (now largely discarded, bar the overarching equality principle) are profoundly Christian. So the question for us, as we watch Cardinal creep ever closer to State, is how to shape this treasured heirloom for the coming century, a century we can expect to test our moral muscle to the limit?

My favourite biblical quote, as a devout un-Christian, is Deuteronomy 10:16. “Circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff-necked.” Universal love, aimed not just at each other, but at nature, God and the planet, is the revolution we have to have. And I don’t mean hugging the person next to you.

But I tell you what. The idea of Yahweh as some sour-faced bullyboy who won’t be queried or laughed at is patent nonsense. I have two proofs for this: one, God is not a member of the NSW Labor Right. And two, if God had no sense of humour, and a pretty wild one at that, we humans wouldn’t even be here.

But the real corker is this story, which has such resonance today: Thatcher wanted Fraser to buy island for refugees.

…The Iron Lady warned her ministers of ”riots in the streets” and hatched a plan to have then Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser jointly purchase an island in Indonesia or the Philippines – ”not only as a staging post but as a place of settlement” for them all, the papers said.

The plan for a refugee colony was blocked by Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who was concerned it could become a ”rival entrepreneurial city”…

Australia eventually became home to about 220,000 Vietnamese refugees. Canada took a few more, the US more than a million, and France about 90,000.

”One of the problems was a lot of the people fleeing Vietnam were doing so in boats that … were totally unsuitable for survival at sea,” Mr Fraser said. ”Therefore, it was essential to try and establish centres they could get to without making the journey longer than it had to be.”

Malaysia had initially pushed boats back out to sea and many refugees were believed to have drowned.

”As a result of diplomacy, they agreed to establish holding centres. That was on the understanding that we, and other refugee recipient countries, were going to take a very large number so they weren’t all going to be left as a problem for Malaysia,” he said.

A similar global effort was needed now, Mr Fraser said. Repeated Opposition criticism of the Government’s border protection policies perpetuated a myth, he said. ”It’s obviously nonsense. Politicians would be surprised how much support a political party would get if it truly stated the case for asylum seekers and refugees and explained the circumstances from which they are fleeing. It shows a lot of courage to leave everything you know behind to try to get a better future for your family.”

The Fraser government’s liberal attitude to Vietnamese refugees met no political opposition.

The last sentence isn’t quite true. I was in Wollongong at the time where the Communist leader of the local trade union council vociferously opposed the Vietnamese boat people.

Update 7pm News

Catholic poster 2007

Isn’t is good that when it suits him Tony Abbott will ignore the Catholic Church.

His latest policy pronouncement “I’ll turn boats back, says Abbott” seems to me rather out of touch with the Pope, not to mention common or garden humanitarian considerations.

Please note the following two important messages for this year from Pope Benedict XVI:

  • In his message for Refugee and Migrant Sunday 2007, the Holy Father emphasized the needs and difficulties of migrant families and the duties of host nations to them. He says: “If the immigrant family is not ensured of a real possibility of inclusion and participation, it is difficult to expect its harmonious development”.
  • On World Refugee Day (20th June), the Holy Father spoke about the importance of welcoming and assisting refugees. He stressed the importance of international attention “towards those who are forced to flee their countries because of real danger to their lives…for Christians this is a concrete way to demonstrate Gospel love”. He also called on governments to ensure the right to political asylum, to protect refugees and to guarantee their human rights.