An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
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The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
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Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.
1. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize
At 17, Pakistani education rights activist Malala Yousafzai is the youngest-ever winner of the prize. She first came to global attention in 2012, when a Taliban gunman attempted to assassinate her on her school bus. After surgery and rehabilitation in the UK, she has become an international advocate for access to education, in particular for girls who are denied opportunities to learn.
Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi, who shares the prize with Yousafzai, is the founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan movement. The organisation, which Satyarthi formed in 1980, campaigns against child labour and human trafficking in South Asia.
2. Dr Catherine Hamlin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
The Ethiopian Government nominated 90 year-old Australian doctor Dr Catherine Hamlin for the prize in recognition for her work with women suffering obstetric fistula during childbirth. The hospitals she helped establish treat over 2500 women each year. She travelled with her late husband Dr Reg Hamlin to Ethiopia 55 years ago to train midwives and stayed on.
Would you believe, other nominations included Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was nominated earlier this year for his role in dismantling Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.
3. Saudis crack down on political dissidents
The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
To that end, King Abdullah issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalises “participating in hostilities outside the kingdom” with prison sentences of between three and 20 years, Human Rights Watch said.
But the laws go beyond those concerns to anything which could “harm public order”. This includes defining atheists as terrorists.
4. Dozens of anti-Muslim attacks as Islamic leaders warn of community fear
There have been at least 30 attacks on Muslims – mainly against women wearing the hijab – in the three weeks since the police anti-terror raids and threats by Islamic State put relations between the Islamic community and mainstream Australia on edge.
Muslim community leaders are compiling a register of religiously motivated incidents, which includes reports of physical and verbal assaults, threats of violence against senior clerics and damage to mosques.
Escorts are being arranged for women to go shopping.
Queensland has the highest rate of personal assaults and threats to mosques, according to the list.
5. Feral cats rewrite the Australian story
There are between 15 and 23 million feral cats in Australia. Each night they chomp their way through about 75 million native animals.
Campaigns to eradicate foxes have backfired where they have been tried. Initial success has been followed by an explosion of the feral cat population leaving native wildlife worse off.
Other predators include the dingo and the Tasmanian devil.
6. Phillip Adams’ favourite interviews
To coincide with Phillip Adams’ induction into the Melbourne Press Club hall of fame, the host of RN’s Late Night Live has assembled a list of some of his favourite recent interviews from his ‘little wireless program’, featuring everyone from Magda Szubanski to Oliver Stone.