The latest from David Pope

5:31 PM   A selection of published work from The Canberra Times editorial artist.

Latest commentary and opinion

Letters to the editor

Broken promises bring island asylum children to mainland

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12:00 AM   Scott Morrison can't justify the removal of children and their families from Christmas Island to the mainland.

The economic case for renewable energy

Andrew Leigh Dinkus

Andrew Leigh 12:00 AM   Like a progressive, I've always believed that a clean environment is an intrinsic good.

Editorial

Tsunami: learning to live with the threat

Canberra Times: 2004 tsunamis

The Canberra Times 12:00 AM   Our growing understanding of nature has diminished but not vanquished the threat posed by natural forces.

In the Herald: December 26, 1928

Brian Yatman 12:00 AM   Christmas Eve in Sydney

View from the Street: So, who's trying to bury their Carbon Tax data today?

Andrew P Street dinkus

Andrew P Street   And we might be getting a Peter Greste Xmas miracle! It's your news of the day, reduced to a snarky rant.

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The Ballad of Admiral Morrison

The very model of a modern muddled Admiral... Immigration minister Scott Morrison.

John Birmingham   The very model of a modern muddled Admiral... Immigration minister Scott Morrison.

2014 was the year we lost any sense of certainty

A memorial for the eight children killed in Cairns

Madonna King   The deaths of two colossal statesmen, Nelson Mandela and Gough Whitlam, bookended the past 12 months, reminding us of the magnificent legacy that big policy and even bigger vision can author. But their passing - on December 5 last year and October 21 this year - also served as a buttress to a time of unprecedented turmoil, coloured by acts of terrorism and fringe politics, which found a new bar abroad and at home. Internationally, the tumult of ISIS and its new kind of savagery brought beheadings into our lounge-rooms and into the conversations we have with our children, making a lie of US President Barack Obama's declaration last year that the nation's "perpetual war footing" had ended. Snatching control of Iraq's second city Mosul, the murderous jihadists taunted the western world, challenging the readiness and the resolve of both the United States and its allies, including Australia. It raised the talkback barometer once they went ahead with their barbaric threats and beheaded two American journalists, two British aid workers, several Lebanese soldiers and Gold only knows how many Syrian soldiers. With Australia's terror threat ramped up to high in September, the menace didn't need to come closer to home. But it did, when days later police acted on alleged intelligence that random beheadings were being planned in both Sydney and Brisbane. And the fear it brings is with us again, on this Christmas Day, as we hold the families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson close, and as Prime Minister Tony Abbott warns of threats again. The suite of tendentious and unprecedented anti-terrorism laws authored by the Abbott government has failed to deliver any unanimity on a way forward, as 2014 closes with fighting, including our own, continuing off-shore, and spot-fires of home-grown terrorism and increased intelligence on threats continuing to be found here. The turbulence of 2014 beyond our shores hasn't started or stopped with ISIS though. Russia annexing part of Ukraine in March, the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls in April, the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, and the ongoing challenge faced by the Ebola virus have been monthly reminders of the precariousness of certainty. It was the baby faces of the Maslin children - Mo, 12, Evie, 10, and Otis, 8 - who were among the 298 passengers (including 28 Australians) aboard MH17 that tore at our souls. The unlikely-as-hell fact that it came after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH350 from our skies a few months earlier in March - and our ongoing inability to locate it - only served to rattle the surety of our everyday lives. It was those international events, and how we responded, that propelled a new candidate into the line-up of those being viewed as future Liberal Party leaders. The stunning performance of foreign minister Julie Bishop elbowed Treasurer Joe Hockey, whose annus horribilis continues, to the side, and gave focus to the ambition of Scott Morrison who goes into 2015 with a bigger set of responsibilities after keeping the boats away. And while the job of chief shirt-fronter Tony Abbott is as sure as it can be - at least this week -  that unpredictability on the international front was joined by the unsettling performances of our own elected representatives. Campbell Newman has gone from the nation's most popular Liberal to perhaps its most despised, Barry O'Farrell quit over a $3000 bottle of wine, and John Robertson over a significant misjudgement. Labor's Daniel Andrews became Victoria's 48th premier. It was the lure of stability that sent the Gillard government packing and granted Abbott a taste of the top office. But 2014 has shown it all proved to be a costly mirage. Clive Palmer - the latest in a long eccentric tradition from Queensland which also brought to the political stage Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and One Nation's Pauline Hanson - ensured he used his weight to tip the balance to chaos at every opportunity (although Senator Jacqui Lambie from Tasmania is vying daily to steal Queensland's crown). While Catherine Martin and Cate Blanchett were crowned with Oscars in March, it was a sensational brawl between billionaire gaming mogul James Packer and Nine Entertainment Group head David Gyngell that stole the entertainment credits for 2014. Perhaps the gong for entertainment, with purpose though, goes to the ALS ice bucket challenge to raise awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It proved a phenomenal viral marketing hit, with the New York Times reporting an extra $42 million was donated to the ALS Association in July-August. In the court room, any shred of certainty was thrown out with the defence arguments, as Rolf Harris joined former Hey Dad star Robert Hughes in jail over child sex charges, 2012 Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide, and two former prime ministers, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard fronted separate royal commissions questioning their behaviour. While Schapelle Corby tasted freedom for the first time in February, dreadful last chapters were penned in courts across the nation, particularly in Queensland where Brett Cowan, who killed schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, was finally locked away for a long, long time. It won't be quite long enough for most of us. But the jailing in June of Australian journalist Peter Greste this year - for seven years on a conviction of aiding a terrorist organisation - showed courts will never get it all right. Let's vow to keep him and his family top of mind, as his January 1 appeal date looms. There's been dozens of other big stories - from the death of Wayne Goss at just 63 and the end of car production at home to the youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai making headlines abroad - but the overarching theme of 2014 has been the the wake-up call that nothing lasts forever. The deaths of eight innocent children in North Queensland is beyond comprehension, just as the passing of Robin Williams, one of the funniest men on earth, rammed that point  home in August. It also provided a timely reminder of the herculean challenge presented by mental illness. Despite the brutality of our times, Nelson Mandela and Gough Whitlam lived long lives, brimming with achievement. Perhaps it's worth moving into 2015 focusing, not on the unpredictability of the time in which we live, but in the knowledge that it is possible to rise above the din and make a genuine difference.

Lone shell nudges evolution into unknown waters

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Stephen Munro 12:00 AM   The savanna theory of human evolution has taken a knock with the discovery of an engraved shell.

Christians feel abandoned by the West

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Christopher Prowse 12:00 AM   A visit to the Middle East by Australian bishops highlights the plight of Christians in Lebanon and northern Iraq.

How much does Christmas mean to us?

christmas church nativity

Bill O'Chee   Jesus changed the world more profoundly than any person before or since.

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Don't forget Christ's lessons this Christmas

Regardless of whether you believe Christ is the son of God, there is much we can learn from him, writes Bill O'Chee.

As we near Christmas, I think it's worth asking how much it really means to us.

Letters to the Editor

Inhuman services

Canberra Times Letters thumbnail

Letters sdfdsfds

Going bush is even better for you than you knew

Ross Gittins.

Ross Gittins   Studies show that taking group walks in nature is associated with better mental wellbeing - so once this Christmas madness is over I'm heading to the bush.

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Conquest is for losers

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Paul Krugman   More than a century has passed since Norman Angell, a British journalist and politician, published "The Great Illusion," a treatise arguing that the age of conquest was or at least should be over.

Meeting the challenge of Christmas

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Damon Young   What we know as Christmas, despite its pagan echoes or contested premises, celebrates the figure known as Jesus. Well and good. But what about Christmas for secular Australians, or those nominal Christians uninterested in devotion?

View from the Street: Government gets a head start on 2015's War on the Poor

Andrew P Street dinkus

Andrew P Street   And we can stop pretending that Muslims aren't being attacked now, right? It's your news of the day, reduced to a snarky rant

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Rob Henry Architects builds on flexible approach to housing

Homes

Tony Trobe   Rob Henry outlines his vision for Canberra after taking a prize in the NEAT housing competition.

Christmas is the time to count our blessings

Christmas tree.

Dean Phelan   This year is almost over but not before we gather to celebrate Christmas, each in our own special way.

It's OK to cheer Australian cricket again

He's one of us: Steve Smith.

Sam de Brito   It's impossible to dislike a bloke with the name Steve Smith. Now he's made it easier to cheer Australian cricket again.

A punny thing happened one Christmas Eve

Alan Stokes.

Alan Stokes   "Yes, I am scared of Saint Nickerless," writes Alan Stokes, puns intended. "He's too sacksy to be real and I'm not sacksy enough."

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If it weren't for the DSP, I wouldn't be working full time now

El Gibbs dinkus

El Gibbs   Being on the Disability Support Pension enabled me to buy medication and undertake study - so that when I finally got off it I was actually employable.

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Food for thought in excess as Fat Duck waddles into Australia

Blumenthal has helped spread the cult of silly food far and wide.

Tim Stanley 12:15 AM   Heston Blumenthal is to food what Damien Hirst is to art. Original, yes. Thrilling, from time to time. But also overpriced and overhyped.

Why Christmas brings news of great joy

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The Canberra Times   In the shadow of horrifying events at the Lindt Cafe, how can Christmas possibly be "merry"? The answer is to seek a deeper spiritual significance.

'We expect God will be listening'

Archbishop Glenn Davies

Archbishop Glenn Davies   This week we mark 100 years since the 1914 Christmas truce - the time the guns fell silent in World War One, the war to end all wars.

Prime ministerial intervention risks belittling awards

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and author Richard Flanagan at the 2014 PM' Literary awards.

Peter Cochrane 12:15 AM   The recent hubbub over the Prime Minister's Literary Awards was sparked by poet Les Murray, one of the judges on a panel charged with the duty of choosing a short list and recommending a winner.

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In the Herald: December 24, 1970

In the Herald dinkus

Brian Yatman   The spirits of Christmases past.

In Sydney, violence will not be the last word

ANTHONY FISHER

Archbishop Anthony Fisher   Sydney and Australia are in shock and grief. It will take time for our city to recover; for the families of the deceased and the survivors; for a community also traumatised by what happened in Martin Place.

Christianity? Revolutionary? Let me count the ways.

Elizabeth Farrelly dinkus

Elizabeth Farrelly 12:15 AM   Christianity should have been the revolution which replaced tribal vengeance with radical love.

Comments 51

Our moderator's mantra: When in doubt, leave it out

Moderating online comment prompts much public comment.

Rob Ashton   As another year of comment moderation draws to a close, it seems a good time to answer a couple of questions and make a few - dare I say - comments.

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Parents don't own compassion

Innuendo wrong: Parents don't have sole rights to compassion.

Terry Barnes 12:15 AM   Compassion is not the sole domain of parents.

Morrison's calculated cruelty is his legacy

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Julian Burnside   After building a reputation as a callous immigration minister, Scott Morrison takes on social services.

Editorial

Backbenchers come to the fore

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The Canberra Times   In the schoolyard shuffle, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rewarded the cool kids and adds a woman to his Cabinet clique.

JB tussles with lurkers and shufflers in bar battle

There was trouble in the bar. There were lurkers and shamblers.

John Birmingham   It was a bar on a hot day. They served fried cheese. It was perfect. A little too perfect.

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Letters to the Editor

GPs scapegoats again

Canberra Times Letters thumbnail

The federal government has pushed through significant changes to the Medicare system, with further proposed legislation undermining the role and value of Australian general practitioners.

Plummeting oil price leaves Russia's warrior czar on thin ice

John Garnaut dinkus

John Garnaut   Vladimir Putin doesn't seem to have realised it yet, but his dreams of reviving the Russian empire and assailing the Western rules-based order have just been obliterated by the collapsing price of oil.

In the Herald: December 23, 1911

In the Herald dinkus

Brian Yatman   Sydney, city of dust, an ill-timed inferno and coming attractions.

Australia deserves better than a part-time Defence Minister

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Andrew Carr   While the official announcement shows a promotion for Kevin Andrews, make no mistake, Tony Abbott is Australia's new Defence Minister.

Try lowering the bar of expectation this Christmas

Generic Christmas tree

Glenda Cooper   When I remember Christmas over the years, I don't look back with a smile at the ones that went without a hitch; my fondest memories are actually of the imperfect ones.

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View from the Street: Tony Abbott, PM 4 the ladieez

"Yep, I am NAILING this whole 'Minister for Women' thing. When it comes to feminism, I am The Man!"

Andrew P Street   And the new Defence Minister doesn't much care for defence. It's your news of the day, reduced to a snarky rant.

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Peter Greste sends greetings from his cell in Cairo

Peter Greste is not a terrorist; he has no axe to grind or political affiliations

Peter Greste   A year into a seven-year prison sentence in Egypt, Peter Greste resists the temptation to become morose.

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Christmas story's message of hope

Natasha Moore dinkus

Natasha Moore   Joy to the world? Really?

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ANALYSIS

Public mourning: a brief history

The enormous number of floral tributes in Martin Place suggest this incident has brought home to us a horrible reality.

Hilda Maclean   The sea of flowers and messages of condolence in Sydney's Martin Place is reminiscent of public mourning in the Victorian era. At that time, it was common for over a thousand people to attend a public figure's funeral.

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Nutting out the nuttiness of bike-car relations

The overlap zone: cyclists often need to merge into faster-moving traffic to pass parked cars.

Lawrence Money   Cyclists and motorists are like the Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq – they share the same territory but just can't get on.

The most precious gift of all ...

Nicholas Stuart

Nicholas Stuart   Society makes business possible – not the other way around. This is something the government’s just discovering.

The real enemy is violence against women

Jenna Price Thumbnail

Jenna Price   The Martin Place siege spotlighted a more insidious form of violence, that against women and families.

Highlights

Canberra Times letters to the editor

Canberra Times editorial

Jack Waterford

The latest comment pieces from Canberra Times Editor-at-Large.

David Pope

The latest cartoons from The Canberra Times editorial artist.

Pat Campbell

The latest cartoons from The Canberra Times artist.