Sunday, 5 April 2015

Joe Hockey and tax and things – The Owl gets a larger audience

  • The bankers behind Hockey’s tax Re:think – “When Joe Hockey delivered Re:think – Better tax, better Australia, he employed the Coalition’s preferred method of delivering policy: eschew details in favour of three-word slogans. Hence the official summation of this week’s taxation conversation starter: Lower, simpler, fairer.” Looking at the detail of the prelude to the government’s make-or-break 2015 budget, Richard Farmer finds telltale thumbprints of Hockey’s internal office. In choosing advisors, Hockey has forgone the choice of previous treasurers: experienced political operatives sceptical to the pleading of business. Instead, Hockey has filled his office with those very people: ex-banking executives and corporate bosses.
  • This Woman’s Job Is to Recast Hillary Clinton’s Image – To get a brief reprieve from the pressures of working in the White House, Kristina Schake, a former aide to the first lady, Michelle Obama, took a class about her favorite painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. … Having helped shape Mrs. Obama’s public image into that of an accessible everywoman, Ms. Schake is about to face what may be her toughest challenge yet: working to get another first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, elected president.
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  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Heretic’ – Following the events of the Arab Spring, Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in her latest book, “Heretic,” she came to the conclusion that “ordinary Muslims are ready for change.” Hirsi Ali has strong thoughts on what form that change should take for Muslims: a major overhaul of their religion. “Without fundamental alterations to some of Islam’s core concepts,” she says, “we shall not solve the burning and increasingly global problem of political violence carried out in the name of religion.”
  • Inside the List – At least since the frenzied days after 9/11, some pundits have called on moderate Muslims to criticize the more extreme elements of their faith from within. Ayaan Hirsi Ali would seem to fit the bill: Born in Somalia to a Muslim family, she fled to the Netherlands rather than submit to a forced marriage, and has since been vocal in chastising radical Islam for its embrace of violence as well as its treatment of women, gay people and nonbelievers; in short, she’d like to see Islam evolve to become more secular and ecumenical. … A professed liberal, she applied for work with left-leaning think tanks when she moved to America in 2007, but found no takers. “They didn’t say it to my face, but I got the feeling that they were uncomfortable with what I had been saying about Islam,” she told the author Sam Harris last year. Instead she found a home with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which seems at peace with her message that Islam is a religion of war.
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  • All hail the messy Pope? – The dramatic gestures and demotic pronouncements of this extraordinary pontificate usually require some decoding, as well as an informed understanding of the culture in which their initiator was shaped. This is a task for which Ivereigh, a journalist and commentator with a published doctorate on religion and politics in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Argentina, is well qualified.
  • Gender difference in moral judgments rooted in emotion, not reasoning, study finds – If a time machine was available, would it be right to kill Adolf Hitler when he was still a young Austrian artist to prevent World War II and save millions of lives? Should a police officer torture an alleged bomber to find hidden explosives that could kill many people at a local cafe? When faced with such dilemmas, men are typically more willing to accept harmful actions for the sake of the greater good than women. For example, women would be less likely to support the killing of a young Hitler or torturing a bombing suspect, even if doing so would ultimately save more lives.
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