How do you evaluate a book before buying? If it were from a traditional bookshop, then one scans some pages at least. The art master in my secondary school told his students of a method he had: read page 15 or 16, then flip to page 150 and read that. If the book interests you, then buy it.
But when it’s online buying, what happens? Not every book you buy is from a known author and many online booksellers do not offer the chance to flip through even a few pages. At times, this ends with the buyer getting a dud.
One book I bought recently proved to be a dud. I am interested in the outcome of the civil war in Sri Lanka where I grew up. Given that, I picked up the first book about the ending of the war, written in 2011 by Australian Gordon Weiss, a former UN official. This is an excellent account of the whole conflict, one that also gives a considerable portion of the history of the island and the events that led to the rise of tensions between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.
Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of the Tamil Tigers is a third-rate book. Don’t waste your money buying it”
The case of Israel Folau has been a polarising one in Australia with some supporting the rugby union player’s airing of his Christian beliefs and others loudly opposed. In the end, it turns out that Folau may be guilty of one of the sins of which he accuses others: hypocrisy.
Last year, Folau made a post on Instagram saying adulterers, drunkards, fornicators, homosexuals and the like would all go to hell if they did not repent and come to Jesus. In this, he was merely stating what the Bible says about these kinds of people. He was cautioned about such posts by his employer, Rugby Australia. Whether he signed any agreement about not putting up similar posts in the future is unknown.
Continue reading “Methinks Israel Folau is acting like a hypocrite”
Nineteen days before it marks a decade since the end of the civil war between Sinhalese and Tamils, Sri Lanka is again in turmoil following a co-ordinated series of bombings by Islamic terrorists on Easter Sunday, nine days ago.
The Sri Lankan authorities appear to have become quite lackadaisical in their attitude towards security on the island, given that so many people could be killed in what appears to be a well-organised bombing campaign with simultaneous blasts in different parts of the country, all aimed at Christians celebrating Easter.
Continue reading “Sri Lanka faces more bloodshed ahead unless govt acts”
Kashmir has been a flashpoint in Indo-Pakistan relations since the two countries were formed in 1947 and was recently in the news, when a terrorist from Pakistan killed 40 members of the Indian Central Police Force.
The two countries are both nuclear powers and apparently had to be pulled back from the brink by the Americans for a second time, the first being in 1999.
There is a great deal of misinformation around the Kashmir issue and that’s why this piece is written, more for my own remembrance than anything else. If you keep hearing lies and have no chance to hear the truth, one tends to believe the lie.
Continue reading “Kashmir is a problem that will never be solved”
“It is a capital mistake to theorise without data.” Sherlock Holmes, the creation of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and still the most famous detective of fiction.
It is not surprising that nearly 20 days after after the verdict on Cardinal George Pell was announced, the Australian lobbyist Gerard Henderson keeps trying to cast doubt on the verdict. Henderson is a staunch defender of the Catholic Church and one who thinks he knows all about journalism – even though he is just a lobbyist who rallies to causes on the right of politics.
Henderson runs an organisation known as The Sydney Institute which he characterises as “a privately funded not-for-profit current affairs forum encouraging debate and discussion”. Two of the companies that supply those funds are the airline Qantas and the telco Telstra. There are other organisations that fund Henderson’s war against the left too.
Continue reading “Three weeks on, Pell supporters retain their blinkers”
“If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.” The gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 6.
In December 2018, a jury found Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official in Australia and the third most senior official at the Vatican. guilty of sexual abuse of minors. The judgement was suppressed until February 26 as a second case against Pell had to heard and the judge felt that announcing the guilty verdict could influence the direction of the second case.
But given that Pell is a globally known individual, numerous foreign newspapers reported the verdict right away as they were not in any way bound by an Australian suppression order. Some Australian newspapers carried big headlines to the effect that a big story was being suppressed; many of these publications now face sanctions from the judge.
Continue reading “Did Pell ever consider what Jesus said about children?”
Thursday, September 13, marked 25 years since Israel took the (then) radical step of recognising the Palestine Liberation Organisation in a Norway-brokered deal that many thought would ultimately lead to a two-state solution in the Middle East and bring an end to one of the most bitter feuds between nations.
Alas, it was not to be. Twenty-five years on, what remains of land that could have been a Palestinian homeland is bantustans, and things seem to be going from bad to worse. With the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it is now inconceivable that Tel Aviv will ever countenance giving up part of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
It brings back memories for me, as it was the biggest news event that I have managed in nearly 40 years as a journalist in three countries. In 1993, I was deputy chief sub-editor at the Khaleej Times in Dubai, and that September I was producing the daily editions as the chief sub-editor, my good mate T.K. Achuthan, was on leave.
Continue reading “Twenty-five years after Oslo, there is nothing to show for it”
When a prime minister has discovered that only one tactic — ratcheting up the fear factor — helps to boost his poll numbers, and his poll standing is desperately low, what does he do?
Tony Abbott has made a profession of demonising asylum-seekers and Muslims and pretending that the world faces an existential threat from the terrorist Islamic State group.
In recent times Abbott has gone back to similar tactics. First, he engineered a “request” from the US, for Australia to join in air strikes on Syria.
Continue reading “Abbott ratchets up the fear factor to boost poll standings”
SO Egypt’s mild flirtation with democracy a la West is over. And it is unlikely to ever return. It’s happened on a good day too – the US celebrates its independence day and Egypt celebrates military rule. What a coincidence!!!
The problem is that the West wants its own systems imposed on other countries – in order to benefit economically. The idea that one cannot bring in a Westminster system and superimpose it on a different model does not really register with people at the US state department.
Mohammed Mursi is from the Muslim Brotherhood. He may be less extreme in his thinking than others in the same movement. But, obviously, he has never been a candidate of choice for the folk in Washington.
Continue reading “Back to the good old Mubarak days in Egypt”
THE brilliant American comedian Dave Chappelle often refers to himself as a connoisseur of racism. A keen observer of the way in which people of colour are discriminated against in the US, Chappelle is quick to use his observations in his stand-up routines.
He would certainly find plenty of material in Australia. The rich vein of racism that flows through the country is for the most part unnoticed. It is considered normal, a part of everyday life. But from time to time, we are reassured that when it comes to racism, Australia is in the front ranks.
A day back, Australia’s first Muslim member of federal parliament, Ed Husic, was promoted to the front bench. He, naturally, took his oath of office on the book of his faith, the Quran. Only a rank idiot would expect him to swear on the Bible, or the Gita or the Torah, given that these texts have no significance to him.
Continue reading “Australia: Muslims not welcome here”