Lost in Space

17 April 2008

A Confusion of Concepts in Commentary on the Outer Space Treaty

Floating in outer space, by Laura Mary, with Creative Commons licenceOuter space is a huge concept. Its sheer scope eludes our Earth-bound brains, hinting at innumerable unknowns speckled across enormous distance. It is, in a sense, our one great uncertainty, surpassing metaphysical questions with an unfathomable physical presence. That’s why we have the Outer Space Treaty, signed under United Nations auspices in 1967 at the height of Cold War tensions.

The treaty offers a guide to how we can think about outer space and its possibilities, at least from an international relations perspective. But recent commentary on the treaty has become rather slippery, stumbling over notions that are marginally relevant to the final frontier.

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Indigenous Australians Offered Apology

13 February 2008

But is Being Sorry Enough?

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At 9 this morning Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd addressed parliament with an apology on behalf of his compatriots for the removal of indigenous children of mixed descent from their families. He said sorry, and then he said it again. But in asking all Australians to look towards a mutually beneficial future he left unsaid the continuing dilemma of Australian sovereignty.

Rudd’s apology came 11 years after the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission released its report on the government-mandated abductions, entitled Bringing them Home. Until late into the 1960s, illegitimate aboriginal children who could pass for white were forcibly taken into state care and fostered into more ‘suitable’ homes. The oft-stated rationale was the imminent ‘death’ of the ‘aboriginal race’ – eugenics meets harsh paternalism.

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