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Analysis and Comment (59)

Isolated by sanctions - but does Putin care? Isolated by sanctions - but does Putin care? EPA/Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti

Explainer: how will sanctions against Russia work?

The sanctions against Russia just announced by the EU and the US are widely reported to be the harshest since the end of the Cold War. The package includes cutting off Russia’s state-owned banks from international…
Europe’s slow recovery from the GFC has had implications for its trade partners, including Australia and the US. Europe’s slow recovery from the GFC has had implications for its trade partners, including Australia and the US. Australian Government/AAP

Why Australia still cares more about the G2 than the G20

As debate about the economic versus political role of the G20 takes hold, it’s worth looking back at how successfully member countries cooperated in promoting economic recovery after the global financial…
American wolves show us how important large predators are for conservation. American wolves show us how important large predators are for conservation. Doug McLaughlin

What American wolves can teach us about Australian dingoes

We know that introduced predators such as foxes and cats are one of the greatest threats to Australia’s wildlife, but what is the best way to control them? Many Australian ecologists argue dingoes are…
US summers are longer and hotter, which the new report warns is affecting power supplies. Last summer, the Pilgrim nuclear plant near Boston had to reduce its power output because the bay’s water was too warm to cool the reactor. US summers are longer and hotter, which the new report warns is affecting power supplies. Last summer, the Pilgrim nuclear plant near Boston had to reduce its power output because the bay’s water was too warm to cool the reactor. Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Flickr

Obama hits TV with new weather warning, but will viewers tune in?

It’s been talked up as a “game-changing” new report, which shows ordinary Americans how climate change is already affecting their lives on everything from summer heat and power shortages, to pollen allergies…
We got credentialised! We got credentialised! climbnh2003

The box-ticking future of a university education

Among the many changes currently sweeping through US public universities is a move away from traditional seat-time in class. Known as “competency-based education”, it is often done online, asking students…
New York’s superhero. New York’s superhero. Columbia Pictures

The amazing renaissance of the superhero post 9/11

The release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes in the middle of a slate of super heroic movies including Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: Winter Solider, and the second in a series of X-Men prequels…
Ukraine got rid of its nuclear weapons in 1994. Ukraine got rid of its nuclear weapons in 1994. EPA/Stringer

Ukraine nuclear security fears were exaggerated

As the curtain fell on the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the Dutch organisers must surely have experienced mixed emotions: relief that the summit was a success, yet frustration that media attention was…
Kerry and Lavrov keep talking. Kerry and Lavrov keep talking. EPA/Martial Trezzini

Can the US and Russia talk their way out of crisis in Ukraine?

Talks between US secretary of state John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Paris, followed after a week of high-level diplomacy, including a phone call between presidents Obama and Putin…
On message: a pro-Russian newspaper in Simferopol, Crimea. On message: a pro-Russian newspaper in Simferopol, Crimea. EPA/Yuri Kochetkov

Ukraine, Kremlin propaganda and the Cold War trap

Facebook can be a confusing place. For the follower of Ukrainian and Russian politics the messages could not be more different. At the same time that “Euromaidan PR” is posting pictures of “Putler” and…
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Double or nothing: Australia’s G20 energy challenge

When Australia hosts the G20 Leaders' Summit in November, a top agenda item for its “Brisbane Action Plan” will be “practical actions to improve productivity and competitiveness”. So here’s a good place…
After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. Christiaan Triebert

No end in sight as Syria misery spreads across region

The second round of the Geneva II talks on Syria have ended with no agreement and without even a decision on the date of a further meeting. The highly experienced UN mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, was clearly…
Glimpses of horror: while the West watches, Syria burns. Glimpses of horror: while the West watches, Syria burns. SIcco2007

Syrians suffer as world plays politics with humanitarian aid

The humanitarian crisis in Syria is no longer news. It is simple fact: tragedy writ large, as cities burn and lives are ruined. Our eyes may widen at the sheer scale of this destruction: four million people…
Good morning America! Good morning America! Wikimedia Commons

All hail Beatlemania – when culture crossed the pond

Fifty years after the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, the band is still the benchmark for Anglo-American relations. With their swift rise to fame in the US, they started the so-called British…
‘Let your mouth rejoice’ (bite the wax tadpole): Coca Cola in China. ‘Let your mouth rejoice’ (bite the wax tadpole): Coca Cola in China. Ming Xia

China’s youth want a movie, a Coke and a Big Mac

It’s clear that the financial influence of China is now global: it has invested $75 billion in Africa over the last 10 years in large infrastructure projects while China’s state news agency, Xinhua, has…
Negotiations: Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry hammering out a deal on Syria. Negotiations: Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry hammering out a deal on Syria. US Department of State

Progress on Syrian WMDs but real test for UN lies ahead

The Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced it is sending a second team of weapons inspectors to Syria where, director-general Ahmet Üzümcü reports, destruction of al-Assad’s…
Yes, it’s getting hotter. Now President Obama is taking action. Yes, it’s getting hotter. Now President Obama is taking action. EPA/Dennis Brack

Obama’s climate change plan: Congress not required

President Obama’s speech at Georgetown University yesterday marks the most significant development in US climate change action so far. The “President’s Climate Action Plan”, a 21-page document, sets out…
The impending Keystone XL decision will signal whether the US is ready to move from quick profits to investments in renewable technology. The impending Keystone XL decision will signal whether the US is ready to move from quick profits to investments in renewable technology. Flickr/shannonpatrick

Keystone XL threatens true American ‘energy independence’

The Obama Administration is facing a critical choice over whether to approve an extension of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. If approved it will carry heavy crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries…
Tornadoes are common in the US Great Plains, but still devastating. Tornadoes are common in the US Great Plains, but still devastating. Carsten Peter/EPA/World Press Photo

Explainer: why are tornadoes so destructive?

Tornadoes are a part of life for people living in the Great Plains of the United States. In Oklahoma, a state that averages 62 tornadoes a year, people are prepared as best as they can be and are well…
In the last few years, both China and the US have ramped up efforts to address climate change. In the last few years, both China and the US have ramped up efforts to address climate change. Stefano Paltera/US Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon

China and the US step up on climate

Ambition has awakened the global energy giants, China and the United States. Both nations have recently strengthened commitments to address climate change and announced plans to strengthen collaboration…
The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a tragedy, but what legacy has it left? The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a tragedy, but what legacy has it left? AAP/Bevil Knapp.

Two years on: the legacy of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill

It is now two and a half years since the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Both the people and the ecosystem of the Gulf were changed by this massive spill; how well…
Even if Congress is opposed, President Obama has made it clear he means to act on climate change. Even if Congress is opposed, President Obama has made it clear he means to act on climate change. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

State of the Union: climate change action is a domestic concern

In his Inauguration address on 21 January, Obama placed tackling climate change high on the agenda for his second term. His definitive statement that “we will respond to the threat of climate change” signalled…
A boom in cheap gas is weaning the US off foreign fossil fuels, and that has implications for geo-politics. A boom in cheap gas is weaning the US off foreign fossil fuels, and that has implications for geo-politics. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

How is US non-conventional fossil fuel affecting the rest of the world?

Instead of increased reliance on gas imports expected five years ago the US now has an abundance of cheap gas for domestic use, and is even projecting LNG exports. Reliance on oil imports has fallen from…
A sign outside Sandy Hook Elementary School echoes the thoughts of many this week. A sign outside Sandy Hook Elementary School echoes the thoughts of many this week. AAP/Justin Lane

Gun control in modern America: hope for change?

I have been asked a number of barely concealed variations on the question “What’s wrong with you Yanks?” this week. Lacking anything better, my answer to the American thanatos with guns has been our national…
President Barack Obama hinted at gun reform in his speech at Newtown. President Barack Obama hinted at gun reform in his speech at Newtown. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Gun control and the price of freedom: Obama’s great challenge

Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year…
Once the shock of the Connecticut shootings has receded, will US law actually change? Once the shock of the Connecticut shootings has receded, will US law actually change? EPA/Justin Lane

The gun lobby, the Second Amendment and the Sandy Hook shootings

It is a form of warfare in urban settings. The recent spate of shootings in the United States have seen the assailants dressed in combat gear – in Aurora, Colorado, an Oregon shopping mall and the latest…
When 20 children - along with six adults - are murdered in cold blood, is there an appropriate response? When 20 children - along with six adults - are murdered in cold blood, is there an appropriate response? EPA/Michael Nelson

Connecticut shootings: we must carefully define our response

There are two ways of responding to deadly violence such as the school shooting in Connecticut. We can respond violently, as a way of protecting ourselves from the fear and anxiety we feel. Or, we can…
Mourners place flowers near Sandy Hook Elementary School after Friday’s shootings. Mourners place flowers near Sandy Hook Elementary School after Friday’s shootings. EPA/Justin Lane

Connecticut shootings: guns don’t kill people, lack of gun control kills people

After the mass shooting of children and their teachers in the United States of America a few days ago, some may say it is too soon to make a political point out of a personal tragedy. In reality, it is…
US Marine Corps Camp Schwab: on-site protesters have hindered Japan’s new US airbase construction here to replace the controversial Futenma Air Station. US Marine Corps Camp Schwab: on-site protesters have hindered Japan’s new US airbase construction here to replace the controversial Futenma Air Station. EPA/Ashimine

Australia is now Uncle Sam’s ‘Keystone of the Pacific’: learn from Okinawa

Uncle Sam’s military presence in Australia is greater now than ever, and more is on the way. The hundreds of Marines rotational in Darwin since April will grow to 2,500 by 2016, bringing with them more…
As New York City firefighters look over two houses struck by trees in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both Republicans and Democrats worry about the impact on voter turnout. As New York City firefighters look over two houses struck by trees in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both Republicans and Democrats worry about the impact on voter turnout. EPA/Justin Lane

Why Sandy could be the ‘October Surprise’ of the 2012 presidential election

On November 4, 1979 when Jimmy Carter’s presidency depended on gaining the freedom of the US hostages held by Iranian student militants, he was unable to achieve this goal even when it looked like the…
Residents of Virginia have begun sandbagging against the arrival of Sandy. Residents of Virginia have begun sandbagging against the arrival of Sandy. EPA/MIchael Reynolds

Hurricane Sandy mixes super-storm conditions with climate change

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy remains a very large, powerful hurricane. On Sunday afternoon (local time), Sandy brought winds gusting to 103km/h to coastal North Carolina. Heavy rains are already occurring…
A United States Air Force RF-101 Voodoo aircraft pilot photographs a Russian ship loaded with missiles while the aircraft itself casts a shadow in Port Casilda, Cuba, Nov. 6, 1962. A United States Air Force RF-101 Voodoo aircraft pilot photographs a Russian ship loaded with missiles while the aircraft itself casts a shadow in Port Casilda, Cuba, Nov. 6, 1962. EPA/Defense Imagery

Australia’s untold reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis

Fifty years ago, the United States and the Soviet Union stood on the brink of nuclear war over Soviet missiles in Cuba. Since then, the Cuban Missile Crisis has been recognised as one of the most definitive…
Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. EPA/Larry W Smith

Northern hemisphere has another hot, hot summer

The 2012 northern hemisphere summer, like its two predecessors, has seen a wide range of climate extremes, many involving heat. In most recent summers there has been at least one part of the world with…
Like Barack Obama, Richard Nixon was once a first-term president in charge of a spluttering economy. Like Barack Obama, Richard Nixon was once a first-term president in charge of a spluttering economy. Marion Doss

Lessons of economic history: Nixon, Obama and the politics of austerity

Yesterday the Federal Reserve announced limited measures to boost the economy. Whatever effect they will have on the economy, they are unlikely to be of any benefit to Obama. Indeed, history shows that…
Pakistani citizens showed their opposition to the reopening of supply routes at a protest in Karachi this week. Pakistani citizens showed their opposition to the reopening of supply routes at a protest in Karachi this week. EPA/Rehan Khan

Pakistan blockade: US convoys are not going anywhere soon

For the past six weeks a high-level US team has been in Pakistan trying to negotiate a resumption of the convoys which travel through the country and provide Coalition forces in Afghanistan with about…
The US is growing in popularity down under … have we all got Obamamania? The US is growing in popularity down under … have we all got Obamamania? AAP/Scott Barbour

Has Australia fallen for Obama’s soft power?

When Barack Obama was under fire for his foreign policy inexperience in 2007, he told the New York Times that his unique biography could be a vital instrument in a new American foreign policy. “If you…
Stationing US troops in Darwin does not align with our foreign policy interests. Stationing US troops in Darwin does not align with our foreign policy interests. AAP/Xavier La Canna

Defence agreements with US harm Australia’s reputation in Asia

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Today, Professor John Langmore argues…
The Australian government faces a difficult task in balancing relationships with China and the US. The Australian government faces a difficult task in balancing relationships with China and the US. EPA/Minoru Iwasaki/Pool

What the Huawei case tells us about the Australia, US, China nexus

The recommendation by intelligence agency ASIO that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei be banned from tendering in the National Broadband Network because of cyber security concerns, raises serious…
Republicans today went to the polls on Super Tuesday, but no clear candidate for the presidential nomination emerged. Republicans today went to the polls on Super Tuesday, but no clear candidate for the presidential nomination emerged. EPA/Ryan Stone

Super Tuesday: what we learned about the Republican presidential race

Voting in the Super Tuesday Republican primaries has ended in every participating state except Alaska. The results have been shared: front runners Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have all…
US-China competition could lead to a brighter clean energy future, or a trade war. US-China competition could lead to a brighter clean energy future, or a trade war. whitehouse.gov

Who owns the sun? Patent law and clean energy

There is a trade war brewing between the United States and China over intellectual property relating to clean technologies – particularly solar power. Steven Chu, a scientist, Nobel Laureate in Physics…
Mitt Romney has targeted voters in different market segments in his bid to win the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney has targeted voters in different market segments in his bid to win the Republican nomination. EPA/Michael Nelson

Would you like fries with your vote? The rise of political marketing

One of the more interesting techniques emerging from the United States Republican Nomination Primary Contest has been the strategy being used in television advertising by some candidates, in particular…
No one goes to Paula Deen for health advice. No one goes to Paula Deen for health advice. Bristol Motor Speedway Dragway

In defence of Paula Deen, battered cheesecake and ‘food porn’

I’ll be completely up front. I love celebrity cook Paula Deen. I love the drawl, I love the finger licking, I love her ever-so-slightly inappropriate relationship with her sons. That time she described…
Can the Republican party get behind Mitt Romney despite the misgivings of the base? Can the Republican party get behind Mitt Romney despite the misgivings of the base? AAP/Michael Reynolds

South Carolina primary: can a divided Republican house unite around Romney?

By rights, Mitt Romney should be on the ropes. In the years leading up to the Republican presidential primaries, he supported small-l liberal positions on anything from abortion and gun control to climate…
The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. EPA/STR

Are we stumbling towards war with Iran?

Relations between Iran and the United States and its ally Israel have descended into the worst crisis in years. Concern is growing that the situation could quickly degenerate into conflict. The origins…
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow proudly affirms his Christian faith during NFL games. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow proudly affirms his Christian faith during NFL games. AAP/Smith

One quarterback under God: what Tim Tebow taught an Australian about America

Just as acquiring a perfunctory understanding of the AFL is inevitable in southern Australia, living in New England Patriots' heartland has forced me to pay a little attention to America’s NFL. Despite…
Americans may be a little confused about Australia, but they sure do like us. AAP/Greg Wood. Americans may be a little confused about Australia, but they sure do like us. AAP/Greg Wood.

Australia, we don’t know you, but we love you, say our American friends

Americans may not think about Australia much, but when they do, they try not to let facts get in the way. But why should we be surprised by that? With great passion comes great ignorance. And Americans…
The Cronulla riots saw ugly attacks on people of “Middle Eastern appearance”. The Cronulla riots saw ugly attacks on people of “Middle Eastern appearance”. AAP

9/11 anniversary: reflections on the ripple-down effect

It’s about that moment; if you’re old enough it’s the indelible memory of JFK being shot. As a teenager I was listening to the car radio when I heard. For Gen X it’s 9/11, the midnight phonecalls, the…
The East African drought is one of the area’s worst in 60 years. The East African drought is one of the area’s worst in 60 years. AAP

From Kenya to Texas: recent climate extremes around the world

2010 was the world’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures 0.53°C above the long-term (1961-1990) average. 2011 started with a strong La Niña (perhaps the strongest since 1917), something which…
Stock markets around the world plummeted after news of the US credit rating downgrade (EPA/FRANK RUMPENHORST) Stock markets around the world plummeted after news of the US credit rating downgrade (EPA/FRANK RUMPENHORST)

Debt dive: why is the US at the mercy of anonymous credit agencies?

Without the firing of a single shot in anger, a country has been, at least in a sense, brought to its economic knees. The capitalist system, with variations and aberrations, is now reacting. Shares are…
Minnesota’s three-week shutdown saw basic government services stripped back. Minnesota’s three-week shutdown saw basic government services stripped back. Flickr/mngop

Minnesota shutdown broadens the blue-red chasm in US politics

Minnesotans have breathed a sigh of relief after the state’s Republican-led legislature signed off on a budget deal negotiated with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, ending a three-week state government…
Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Flickr/The White House

Don’t play the market when it comes to children’s education

Education policy in the United States is paved with some glaring failures. Despite this, many Australian reformers are looking west for inspiration, as the Gonski review of education funding is carried…
Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. AAP

A Grand, Old Priority: how Obama’s climate change agenda was scuppered

As the US was brought to the brink of a government shutdown this weekend, one of the sticking points was Republican insistence that President Obama curtail the activities of the Environmental Protection…

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (7)

Invasive fish prove to be resourceful

Invasive species of fish, collectively known as Asian carp, may prove more of a concern to American river systems than previously…