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Australia announced this week that asylum seekers who are waiting in Indonesia to be resettled in Australia will not be accepted. EPA/Hotli Simanjuntak

Why Indonesia shrugged off Australia’s move to bar refugees

There was a collective shrug in Indonesia over Australia’s decision to stop accepting refugees who are waiting in Indonesia to be resettled in Australia. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison…
Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest has won the inaugural Voss Literary Prize. Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr

The Voss Literary Prize celebrates a fine new Australian novel

The Voss Literary Prize, for which I was a judge, was awarded for the first time this week. The winner, Fiona McFarlane for her novel The Night Guest, was chosen from a shortlist that included Hannah Kent…
Webcams have been made public because their passwords weren’t changed from the default. Flickr/Cory Doctorow

How to keep the world’s eyes out of your webcam

There are concerns that thousands of private webcams around the world could be streaming live images to anybody who wishes to view them – without their owner knowing – thanks to a Russian website providing…
Like its prequel The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Look of Silence holds a mirror to its subjects and viewers who are forced to face a horrifying truth. Lars Skree/Final Cut for Real

The Look of Silence and Indonesia’s dark mirror

With eyes fixed on his television screen, Adi Rukun, the main character followed by documentary maker Joshua Oppenheimer in his new film, The Look Of Silence, seems to face a mirror that resurrects a nightmarish…
The Indonesian government is drafting a bill to protect religious minorities in a move to improve the country’s poor record in religious freedom. AAP/Nugroho Kuthit

Is a new law enough to protect religious minorities in Indonesia?

Indonesia, having grappled with problems of religious intolerance and violence, seems to be making efforts to improve religious freedom. Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, Lukman Syaifuddin, is drafting…
Children exhibit signs of psychotic illness in very rare cases. Philippa Willitts/Flickr

Rise in anti-psychotic scripts for kids is a serious worry

News this week that as many as 100,000 prescriptions for anti-psychotics were written for Australian children in 2013 is cause for concern. Though the drugs may be appropriate in a small number of cases…
Many countries still need to clean up their act on anti-corruption and whistleblowing protections. Shutterstock

Anti-corruption bar set higher, but Australia still has more to do

Despite the adoption of a third two-year G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan, corruption received only a few lines in the latest G20 leaders’ communique. The credibility of the G20 as a whole now rests on…
Millions of people around the world rely on money transfer operators to send funds to their families. Gregory Wake/Flickr

Bankers are about to ensure money transfers go underground

Next week, Australian bank Westpac will become the last of the big four banks to stop serving money transfer operators, amid concerns about breaching laws on money laundering and terrorist financing. There…
The First Contact cast members' transformation over the series is an optical illusion of Australian race relations. SBS

SBS’s First Contact is the real ‘festering sore’ of the nation

The SBS/Blackfella Films production First Contact – that takes six non-Indigenous people and immerses them into Aboriginal Australia for the first time – captured the nation’s attention this week amassing…
Odd one out? Jacqui Lambie walks past her Palmer United Party colleagues earlier this week. AAP/Lukas Coch

Lacking a unifying purpose or policies, PUP is falling apart

After holding itself together for four-and-a-half months, potentially fatal cracks are appearing in the Palmer United Party (PUP). With fellow senators claiming that she refuses to attend party meetings…
Australia’s official forecasts for expanding fossil fuel exports don’t match up with what’s needed to avoid severe climate change. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Australia’s coal and gas exports are being left stranded

In the last week the US and China announced goals to reduce emissions by 26-28% and cap emissions by 2030 respectively. India also signalled its aim to end coal imports within 2-3 years. These are telling…
Is Doomsday Preppers simply a freakish version of Grand Designs? National Geographic Channel

Architecture of doom: DIY planning for global catastrophe

Environmental catastrophe, economic collapse, global pandemic … does it feel like the world is ending? If you think Armageddon is near and are trying to get ready, you are not alone. National Geographic…
The podcast Serial investigates the murder of 18-year-old American student Hae Min Lee 15 years ago. LukaTDB/Shutterstock

Serial: murder, mystery and the science of memory

Can you recall what you were doing last Wednesday between 2.15pm and 2.36pm? Where were you? What did you see? Who did you talk to? How well do you remember those 21 minutes? Now try to recall Wednesday…
Australians are increasingly tuning in to traditional broadcast television stations. www.shutterstock.com

Television is not dead, it’s just changing channels

Netflix will launch in Australia and New Zealand in March next year. Expectations are this is just the start of an influx of new streaming options in Australia. The internet and television are increasingly…
These clouds – formed high in the Antarctic atmosphere during spring – provide a place where ozone-destroying chemicals can form. sandwich/Flickr

Ozone hole closing for the year, but full recovery is decades away

Imagine an environmental crisis caused by a colourless, odourless gas, in minute concentrations, building up in the atmosphere. There is no expert consensus, but in the face of considerable uncertainty…
The Israeli government continues to undermine a two-state solution by expanding settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. EPA/Jim Hollander

Israel’s policy on statehood merits the same scrutiny as Hamas gets

Escalating confrontations in Jerusalem centred on the al-Aqsa Mosque, 1500 more homes to be built in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and a sharp deterioration in Israel’s relations with Jordan have…
As Australia becomes increasingly multicultural it’s important our schools are aware of the diversity of social and cultural norms children bring to school. Shutterstock

Diversity in the classroom means children develop differently

The first few years of school are tough for any child. Moving from the relatively unstructured activities of preschool to the formal requirements of school is a big step. Children require high levels of…
Warmer waters heading south – here’s sunrise off Manly in New South Wales. Flickr/Jeff Turner

Things warm up as the East Australian Current heads south

Occasional erratic bursts southward of the East Australian Current (EAC) are thought to have moderated the weather of south-east Australia this autumn and winter and they continue to introduce tropical…
Crowding in refugee and internal displacement camps create conditions ripe for disease transmission.

Fixing broken health systems in the aftermath of conflict

Conflict continues to afflict the globe at a seemingly undiminished rate. The world’s attention is focused on Syria and Iraq in an escalating conflict that has resulted in about three million refugees…
As the leaders were meeting at G20 the tweeters were tweeting their own thoughts on the global summit. Flickr/Palazzo Chigi

From selfies to climate change: the #G20 debate on Twitter

The G20 Summit that brought many of the world’s most important leaders to Brisbane last weekend was also a major Twitter event. Australian and international users expressed their concerns over the appearance…