It’s the time of year to make the claim that Jesus is gay. It seems to happen semi-annually. A few years back, a Queensland academic made the claim that Jesus had sex with his male disciples and a special relationship with ‘the beloved’ disciple, John.
This year it was the turn of another John, Elton John, to raise the topic of Jesus’ sexuality, adding the new element that Jesus was a “super-intelligent” gay man.
The famous singer’s admiration of Jesus extends beyond his claim that Jesus was gay and smart: Elton admires Jesus’ compassion, naming the forgiveness of sins that Christ achieved on the cross as a key element of the Christian message, and something worthy of emulation.
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Almost 10 years before he became one of the nation’s most accomplished welfare bums - living off the very parliamentary super scheme he railed against as Opposition Leader and now gloats about receiving in his newspaper column - Mark Latham was making a lot of sense about the explosion of welfare dependency in Australia.
Latham was especially energised by the surge in the number of Australians on the disability pension. He tackled the issue at length in his dour but valuable1998 tome Civilising Global Capital. The book was ridiculed as an unreadable doorstop by the Libs, run down by envious Labor non-thinkers as the showy work of an intellectual poseur who was using it only to position himself for the leadership.
But it contained a lot of provocative thinking about the (dictionary definition) incredible rate at which Australians were signing on in their 50s, 40s, even their 30s for a life on handouts as they convinced the welfare state that they quite simply could never work again.
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Peter Garrett’s demotion by Kevin Rudd this afternoon has all the hallmarks of a sacking - it is humiliating, it is based on poor performance, and it leaves him with virtually no power in his narrowly-defined portfolio.
But it isn’t a sacking, because Kevin Rudd does not want to give the Opposition the satisfaction of claiming a ministerial scalp, with all the political momentum such a blow would generate.
Sneakily announced late on a Friday to avoid mass media scrutiny throughout a full week, and with the Parliament not sitting next week, Kevin Rudd said his decision to limit Garrett’s responsibilities followed a long conversation with his besieged Environment Minister today.
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To the casual observer the Israeli embassy in Canberra looks like any other diplomatic mission in the leafy suburbs of Deakin and Yarralumla. Appearances can be deceiving.
The inside of Israel’s chancery building is more like a mini-fortress than the well-to-do family home visible from the street. Visitors are treated with all the caution you would expect from the world’s most suspicious and fearful regime whose enemies are everywhere, even quiet and peaceful Canberra.
There are no friendly receptionists offering cups of tea and visitors are greeted by lean looking men with crew cuts and bulges under their arms, ear pieces permanently in place. There are no smiles, no small talk, just searches, scans and an array of CCTV cameras.
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WELCOME to another journey around the dilapidated tennis tables and half-finished construction projects in the back sheds of suburbs around our nation.
We start this week’s shambolic ramble in the southern parts of Melbourne, where life can move slowly, especially when you’re strapped to a turtle. Edithvale resident Helen Beaumont is just such a person.
She has found the zen-like state of happiness that can only come from harnessing up a reptile with a makeshift doggy lead and walking it slowly down a beach.
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The Punch has just left Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco where the company sought to address the fallout from the controversy of tribute pages to dead minors being defaced with obscene content.
Following questions earlier this week from The Punch, Facebook’s global communications and policy director, Debbie Frost, told us the company was sending a letter to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh apologising for the incident and addressing the Premier’s letter of concern sent to the social networking giant this week.
Frost said the incident was unprecedented in her time at Facebook, adding it was difficult to fathom how people would decide to attack memorial pages in this way.
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As a new recruit to Facebook, I admit I was not exactly on the first-wave of the online social networking phenomena. It’s not that I’m a techo-phobe by any measure (my blackberry is a constant companion).
It’s just that I am not entirely convinced that the addition of a Facebook page will enhance either my work or personal lives. And the thing is, in this job, the two are often inextricably linked. MPs are public figures - albeit very minor ones. And - after sharing weekends, evenings and most waking hours with either my local constituents, my parliamentary colleagues, Industry groups and stakeholders within my shadow portfolio responsibilities - I’d kinda like to keep a little bit of me just for my nearest and dearest.
Call me old fashioned (and I’m sure many of you will) but I prefer to share my personal trials, triumphs and trivia with those I am closest to, rather than the-acquaintance-of-an-acquaintance who I met once at a function and who has now requested to be my “friend”.
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Today I’m going to be a curmudgeon. Let’s start with Avatar. I hated it. Before anyone starts: yes, I know the special effects are amazing. Yes, I saw it in 3D. Yes, I know it’s nominated for a Best Film Oscar. I still hated it. The plot was lame and I resented being bashed over the head with the groaningly obviously political message.
While we’re at it, I also didn’t like Lord of the Rings. Fell asleep in the cinema in fact. Hell, as long as I’m bucking conventional wisdom, I may as well really disgrace myself: I find Monty Python terminally unfunny. I don’t get the big deal about Bob Dylan. And I don’t reckon Brad Pitt’s that attractive.
I usually keep these views to myself because of the reaction they provoke. The Monty Python one in particular attracts gasps of disbelief and horror.
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It took a couple of calls to get through to Sister Mary Ellen O’Donoghue, but when I listened to her phone message I knew it was going to be worth it.
“Sorry to be so late getting back to you Lucy,” she said, “But I can’t be in two places at once.”
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Considering the complex cloak and dagger diplomacy surrounding US-Iran relations deputy US State Department Spokesman Robert Duguid comes out with a pretty open account of how and why the State Department asked Twitter not to close down during the post-election uprising in Iran.
“We don’t have anyone on the ground in Iran; we haven’t since our hostages were set free in 1981. So for us just knowing the information was coming out that this real information, or at least piecemeal information that you knew was happening on the day was important,” Mr Duguid told The Punch from Washington.
“It was also evident to us that without social media being available that those groups who were opposing the crackdown and opposing the election results would not have a voice. So yes we learnt that Twitter was going to go down for maintenance. So we talked about it upstairs at the public affairs section, and one of our number knew the folks at Twitter.”
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