French Alps
While some Germanwings Flight 9525 investigators sorted through debris in the Alps, others were in apartments and hospitals and doctors’ offices, seeking fragments of Andreas Lubitz’s life. As the details emerged—a doctor’s note, a depression diagnosis, a prescription, thoughts of suicide, a broken heart, an eye problem—they seemed to add up to the story of a mentally ill young man driven to commit mass murder and suicide. They also added up to trouble for Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company. According to some experts, they now face damages in excess of an initial estimate of three hundred million dollars. The airline, the experts argue, should have known that Lubitz was not someone who should have been responsible for the lives of a hundred and fifty people. The attribution of the disaster to mental illness has spurred calls for more thorough mental-health screenings of people seeking access to instruments of mayhem, and for more restrictions on those diagnosed…Continue Reading
Even in a time defined by amazing technological advances, the practice of medicine is arguably just as much an art as it is a science – a fact that irritates both patients and doctors. For a vast number of conditions, the solutions are often not simple answers. Perhaps the most significant exception to this is the success of vaccines. Until recently, in Australia and other developed countries, diseases such as pertussis, rotavirus and measles – which claimed the lives of hundreds and thousands of infants in developing countries each year – had essentially disappeared. Both pertussis and measles are now back, mostly because of the ever increasing number of children who remain unvaccinated. Vaccines are perhaps the most power full public health tool. Unfortunately, there is a group (a minority, but a dangerous one) who just do not care. Many of those do not approve of the vaccine schedule set out by the…Continue Reading
Cautionary Tale II
It’s not hard to see that current policy reforms pushed by the Abbott government are tilted towards the very rich. Axing the carbon and mining tax while keeping popular tax breaks such as dividend imputation, negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions mainly serve the very wealthy. It is a natural stance of conservative governments to want to lower corporate and personal tax rates. But making it easier for the very wealthy to reduce their marginal tax rate does not help the overall economy, and the American example shows just how dangerous the consequences can be. Growth and Inequality Government sets the rules by which the market functions. All of these rules are necessary in order to construct a free market. The real question is who do these rules benefit? And who do they hurt? Over the last thirty years, the structure of the economy shifted, and many of the rules governing the market began to…Continue Reading
In the air-conditioned world of suburban Canberra, climate change isn’t something that you would think about too much, unless you really want to. But I know I’m living in a bubble, and that there are places outside my bubble where climate change is impossible to ignore. At the top of that list is Bangladesh – where climate change has become a matter of life and death. A Harsh Reality Murshad Ali Khan, a journalist for the leading English newspaper in Dhaka, The Daily Star, has been reporting on Bangladesh for over 30 years. According to him, Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, was once a quiet city. “The last 20 years has seen phenomenal growth. Everyday people come from rural areas [for] employment opportunities.” He cites the reasons for such large migration as economic, but that “climate is also playing a part” Dr. Atik Rahman is one of the country’s top climate scientists.…Continue Reading