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Female members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) helped patrol the outskirts of Makhmur, a northern Iraqi town that was seized back from Islamic State militants in August. AAP/Eddie Gerald

Our forgotten allies against Islamic State: Iraqi and Syrian women

Women and girls living in Syria and Iraq have been subject to gross sexual violence, economic strife and the psychological trauma of a war that, to them, seems endless. But women in these countries are…
If Democrats win governorships in battleground states, their fortunes in the House of Representatives will improve considerably – in the long term. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Why the US midterms matter – and why Democrats see a silver lining

If the polls are correct, the headlines on November 5 following the US midterm elections will proclaim that Democrats have suffered a major defeat. The Democrats will likely lose the Senate. President…
Clive Palmer was totally opposed to the government’s ‘'direct action’‘ climate policy only a few months ago. Now he’s voting for it. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott government gets some wins – and gives the odd hostage to the future

In a move that channels John Howard, Tony Abbott has put changing the GST on the political agenda, just over a year after assuring the public it would not be altered, “full stop, end of story”. In the…
Over half of Australia’s imported goods come from the Asia Pacific, which has 78 million child labourers, including these three in a Bangladesh balloon factory. EPA/Abir Abdhullah

Global supply chains link us all to shame of child and forced labour

The fragmentation of global production has dramatically increased the length and complexity of supply chains. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that more than…
Mining has become an industrial actor central to many of the most compelling political and social debates of our time. AAP/Dan Peled

Anthropology exposes how miners shape our world and our views of it

Miners do much more than extract minerals and make profits. All over the world mining corporations are collaborating with governments, local populations and NGOs. Their logos, mottoes and CEOs seem to…
The facts about mining revenues and taxation in Australia aren’t as clear as they should be under global transparency benchmarks. AAP/Rebecca Le May

Why isn’t Australia signing up to mining revenue transparency?

It’s a far-from-perfect instrument of global governance. But as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) coalition celebrates its 12th birthday, it can point to steadily increasing membership…
To see off challenges to its dominance, Malaysia’s government exploits Muslim sentiment at every turn. This has been a factor in sodomy charges against opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Malaysia reaches a critical crossroad over state Islamisation

Fuelled by the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, debate about Islam and violence has flared again in Australia. In a predictable cycle of provocation and reaction, governments launch a wide-ranging…
The challenges facing Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo are clearly reflected in the choices in his first cabinet. EPA/Mast Irham

Indonesian president makes shaky start with cabinet of compromises

Indonesia’s new president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo faces three major challenges as he begins his five-year term. The compromise cabinet he has announced clearly reflects this. The first challenge is obvious…
A Fijian election officer shows a ballot to scrutineers at the 2006 election. Last month’s election resulted in a stronger vote for female MPs. AP Image/Peter Williams

Fiji’s women speak up in growing numbers inside parliament

In a region that has long had the worst representation of women in politics in the world, Fiji’s recent election delivered some good news: one in seven Fijian MPs are women, while the parliament now has…
There was an expectation that there would be an increase of negative views on immigration in 2014 – but the reverse has occurred. AAP/Dan Peled

Continuity and change: Australian opinion in a time of stress and fear

The report on the 2014 Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion surveys, released on Wednesday, finds both continuity and change. On attitudes to asylum seekers, for example, there is a large measure…
Despite a fall in our rate of child poverty, there is reason to be concerned about recent changes and future trends in Australia. AAP/Joe Castro

Australia bucks child poverty trend but the future looks a lot bleaker

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has just released its latest report card on child well-being in 41 rich countries. In particular, the report looks at the effects of the economic crisis on children…
Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s cabinet line-up does not reflect a clean break from the old oligarchy. EPA/Adi Weda

Indonesia’s cabinet line-up: not all the president’s men

Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo announced his cabinet on Sunday afternoon and they were formally sworn in the next day. Analysts, politicians and business communities gave mixed responses to the…
Most media outlets lined up behind the ‘coalition of the willing’ last time around. This time seems no different. The US Army

When governments go to war, the Fourth Estate goes AWOL

A year after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a postmortem of the media coverage of the so-called “Iraq war”. The conference included academics, journalists…
The problem confronting Labor and federal leader Bill Shorten is not so much the ties with unions as the centralisation of power in the party and a handful of affiliated unions. AAP/Lukas Coch

Labor will be making a mistake if it simply divorces the unions

Proposed reforms in the Australian Labor Party aim to give members a greater voice in party governance and policy development. This is driven by the need to reverse the party’s shrinking support base after…
There is a higher density of gun ownership in country areas in Australia relative to cities. Does this explain recent homicides on farms? shutterstock

Does rural Australia have a gun problem?

The recent multiple homicide in a small Victorian township, coming barely a month after a mass shooting in rural New South Wales, may give the impression that firearm-related murders in rural Australia…
Through force of ritual practice and habit, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers manages the emotions of a parliamentary ovation. Youtube/CBC News

Rituals of the Mace, limits of the handgun: in defence of ritual

What makes a man return to work the day after killing someone? How does he manage to do his job in such circumstances and under public scrutiny? The day after mortally wounding Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau…
Challenging the culture of male violence at night is just as important – if not more so – than the criminal law’s response to the issue. AAP/David Crosling

Addressing male violence at night requires a cultural shift

The recent killing of 21-year-old Melbourne University student Joshua Hardy is another tragic story of unprovoked, alcohol-fuelled male violence in our community. It is an issue that has animated significant…
Today’s state and territory leaders have an opportunity to emulate the founders of the federation and make history by breathing new life into Australia’s system of government. AAP/Lukas Coch

Rebalancing government in Australia to save our federation

Federation in 1901 is now the middle point between 2014 and the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Despite this, most views of federation, if Australians have one at all, are probably shaped by its…
For some vulnerable gamblers, social casino games can trigger a desire to gamble for real money, while for others the games can act as a useful distraction. shutterstock

Social casino games can help – or harm – problem gamblers

Free-to-play social online games that simulate gambling are a hugely popular, and profitable, new phenomenon, but concerns have been raised about how innocent these games really are. Our recently published…
Giving today’s kids a flying start with early education will be crucial to helping them fill the gap left behind by retiring Baby Boomers. Kevin Conor Keller/Flickr

Baby Boomers, be nice to your grandkids: they may save Australia

The problem with Australia’s population ageing is not that there are too many older people – it’s that there are not enough young people to support them. That presents many challenges to Australia’s continued…