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Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, the only institution mandated to settle election disputes in the country rejected Prabowo Subianto’s challenge. Prabowo lost in the 2014 presidential election in Indonesia. EPA/BAGUS INDAHONO

Prabowo fights on, but Indonesian court ruling ends legal challenge

As many analysts predicted, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (MK) has rejected losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s challenge to the election result. Despite the decision, which is final and…
History tells us that it is certain criteria and not democratic niceties, secularism or a moderate hand that will make or break Islamic State. EPA/STR

Going the distance: does Islamic State have staying power?

The rise of Islamic State (IS) across parts of the Middle East has galvanised the international community in a way not seen since September 11. But before a military response is considered, western nations…
In China, former basketball star Yao Ming takes the Ice Bucket Challenge at his NBA Yao School in Beijing. EPA/NBA Yao School

Critics pour cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge: are they right?

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been called “one of the most viral philanthropic social media campaigns in history”. The campaign has raised the profile of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). But some…
Social and digital media perform a function that is humanising by connecting people and allowing freedom of expression. Icons from Shutterstock

Speaking with: Robert Picard on democratising the media

Is social media really delivering on its promise of democratising communication? Or have we just replaced one model that privileges those with power for another? Dr Andrea Carson speaks with Professor…
The Abbott government has appointed several people with business backgrounds, such as Tony Shepherd (left), to key inquiries in its first year in office. AAP/Nikki Short

Coalition’s appointments are part of a bigger pattern in policy advice

Since coming to office, the Abbott government has initiated a wide range of reviews into policy areas such as the national school curriculum and the Renewable Energy Target. Some commentators have argued…
The Abbott government is all for free speech except when the speakers are green activists like Mackay Conservation Group’s Ellen Roberts. AAP/Dan Peled

Step by step, conservative forces move to silence NGOs' voices

The federal Liberal Party, government ministers, Coalition MPs, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are targeting the advocacy role of Australia’s environmental…
Intelligence agencies want greater access to metadata, but security wishlists must be tempered by the public interest in privacy and a balance between state power and citizens' rights. AAP/Lukas Coch

What is the meaning and what is the use of ‘metadata retention’?

Privacy and individuals’ ability to remain anonymous are important protections against persecution, bullying, intimidation and retaliation. These can be perpetrated by other people, private businesses…
There is little doubt that Tony Abbott – the pugilist, rugby player and ironman – has sport in mind when he describes Australia as a team. AAP/Julian Smith

Dead Poets Society meets Team Australia under captain Abbott

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is uncommonly fond of sport metaphors, not least when addressing the domestic terror threat. His latest championing of “Team Australia” in trying to sell his government’s…
Last year’s election of federal independent MP Cathy McGowan as a result of Voices 4 Indi’s kitchen table campaign was a spectacular demonstration of the potential power of this model of community engagement. Voices4Indi/Facebook

Reasserting the public interest from Australians' kitchen tables

Grassroots common sense and decency lie at the heart of two growing movements to reassert the voice of the people in the management of our local and national affairs. Kitchen table conversations and community…
The Sydney Alliance’s founding assembly in 2011 filled the Town Hall with people eager to put community back into politics. Kurt Iveson/citiesandcitizenship.blogspot.com.au

Community organising aims to win back civil society’s rightful place

In the wake of the Second World War, Karl Polanyi wrote that the public arena is made up of three interconnected sectors: the market, government and civil society. He argued that democracy thrives when…
In its first year in office, the Abbott government has been revealed as utterly tone-deaf when it comes to matters of political ideology. AAP/Lukas Coch

Oh, what a lovely culture war! Team Abbott’s ideological battle

As we approach the first anniversary of the Abbott government coming to office, The Conversation is examining how the Coalition has fared in remaking Australia and keeping its election promises. Labor…
Throughout his recent royal commission appearance, Catholic cardinal George Pell focused on the ‘choices’ that victims of abuse make. AAP/Paul Miller

Moral responsibility a drive-by victim of Pell’s view of the church

Cardinal George Pell’s appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will do little to rehabilitate his image in the eyes of clergy abuse victims. Via video link…
Proportionality in sentencing cannot be achieved through mandatory sentences created as a result of an overreaction to community fear and outrage. AAP/Dave Hunt

Mandatory sentences can’t deliver justice or stop one-punch killings

The Victorian government’s introduction of the Sentencing Amendment (Coward’s Punch Manslaughter and Other Matters) Bill 2014 this week has again sparked debate about the deterrence value and general utility…
Ahok may be the first Chinese Indonesian politician to break the shackles of identity politics in Indonesia. Steven Fitzgerald Sipahutar/Flickr

Jakarta’s first ethnic Chinese governor takes Indonesia forward

Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, better known as Ahok, will be the first ethnic Chinese to govern Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Ahok is not the first ethnic Chinese to gain political prominence in Indonesia, where…
The silent majority of Muslims shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of Islam’s radical followers – they are victims of radical Islam. EPA/Ali Abbas

Islam’s silent majority: moderate voices drowned out by extremists

Stretching from north Africa to east Asia, many Muslims are engaged in a life-and-death tussle with extremists who are bent on extinguishing the diversity of opinions within the Muslim community. Atrocities…
Opposition leader Bill Shorten described the rape allegation as abhorrent. AAP/Paul Miller

Shorten outs himself as Labor figure in rape investigation

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has identified himself as the senior Labor figure investigated by Victoria Police after an allegation he had raped a young woman in the 1980s. In a claim made last October…
A screengrab from Islamic State’s execution video of American journalist James Foley. Liveleak

James Foley, Islamic State and the media’s treatment of terrorism

The US government has confirmed the veracity of a video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley by Islamic State (IS) militants. US president Barack Obama condemned the act overnight…
With an area smaller than an A4 sheet of paper required per bird, battery hens are debeaked so they don’t peck each other to death. Wikimedia

We have animal welfare laws but they don’t stop the suffering

Julian Burnside and Daniel Reynolds wrote recently for The Conversation that: … animals do have greater rights than asylum seekers in Australia. In fact, Australian law requires that animals be treated…
When faced with an economic policy agenda, the public must be persuaded on two fronts: that it is justified both by evidence and morally. AAP/Paul Miller

The government can sell the budget if it gets its story straight

It is now more than three months since the Abbott government released its first budget. Amid the subsequent wrangling over controversial measures such as the A$7 GP co-payment and re-indexing the fuel…
While African Australians can express themselves in ethnic events such as Sydney’s Africulture festival, they still have almost no presence in mainstream media debate, even when it’s about them. AAP/Newzulu/Teresa Parker

Debate on free speech alone means little for minorities

Recent debates about freedom of expression in Australia have largely neglected the ethnic minority media sector. These debates came to a head in the lead-up to the federal government’s recent decision…
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane says Australian political leaders have understood the importance of making minorities feel a part of the community. humanrights.gov.au

What does ‘Team Australia’ mean, Race Discrimination Commissioner asks

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has raised questions about Tony Abbott’s term “Team Australia” and warned that the “tone” of leadership matters. The Islamic Council of Victoria this…
Noel Pearson has long had the ear of government, including then minister Tony Abbott back in 2002. AAP/Alan Porritt

Pearson’s grip on Indigenous policy is not backed by evidence

Noel Pearson is seen by many as Australia’s most influential Indigenous leader. As well as being chairman of the Cape York Group, he is an outspoken commentator who shapes policy as part of the Abbott…
Personal dispositions, feelings and beliefs may play a decisive role in explaining why people become radicalised. EPA/Stringer

What goes on in the mind of a militant extremist?

So far, the ongoing discussions about radicalisation of extremists both at home and abroad have tended to emphasise its sociological aspects. It has focused on concepts such as the religion and social…