Politics + Society — Analysis and Comment

One needs to understand the differences in their Islamic movements to make sense of events over recent decades in Egypt and Iran. EPA/Mohamed Messara

Ignorance and hostility fuel ‘imagined solidarity’ with Islamists

People sometimes overlook their profound differences if social forces unite them in a common, often ill-defined desire. Hostility to Muslims is creating an imagined solidarity that Islamists can exploit.
As control over water returns to the state, the Indonesian government should carefully develop policies to manage and monitor water services. nikkytok/www.shutterstock.com

What next after Jakarta ends water privatisation?

The de-privatisation of water services in Jakarta creates new challenges for the government to ensure universal access to water.
The O'Farrell government had a law limiting political donations struck down by the High Court. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Follow the money: the difficult path to political donation reform

It is unfortunate that it is only scandals and the perception of corruption or criminal involvement that prompt moves to reform Australia’s political finance regime.
However hard we pursue happiness, when the party’s over we must still confront the grimmer aspects of life. Shutterstock/YanLev

Is a cult of happiness leading us to lose sight of life?

We can pursue our own happiness to the exclusion of the real world, but how meaningful can that be? Far better to engage with life and both the happiness and sadness it brings along the way.
Cory Bernardi is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, saying children do best when they are raised by both a mother and a father. AAP/Alan Porritt

FactCheck: is having a mum and a dad the very best thing for a child?

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, has said that "the very best thing" for the development of a child is to have a mum and a dad. What does the research say?
In elevating the status of animals, the Pope looks back to Francis of Assisi’s example and looks ahead to the prospect of environmental catastrophe. Flickr/Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca

Endorsing the salvation of animals, Pope warns of Earth’s end

In suggesting the ultimate restoration of all creatures in his recent encyclical, Pope Francis is breaking with the weight of Western philosophical and theological tradition.
Joe Hockey’s successful defamation case against Fairfax Media raises questions about the extent to which politicians should be able to sue in relation to publications about their public conduct. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Hockey v Fairfax should start the debate on defamation law reform

Hockey v Fairfax illustrates that recent legal and technological developments still pose challenges for defamation law, which has not been reformed to keep pace with these changes.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as self-declared caliph, seeks to exploit the historical resonance of the caliphate for a brutal present-day cause. EPA/Furqan Media

Caliphate, a disputed concept, no longer has a hold over all Muslims

The Caliphate has inspired disputes among Muslims for centuries, but attempts at revival in modern times are unlikely to succeed. Most of the world's Muslims would not accept its authority over them.
Lawyers and asylum seeker advocates are concerned that the Border Force Act will have a ‘chilling effect’ on whistleblowers working in detention centres. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Border Force Act entrenches secrecy around Australia’s asylum seeker regime

The Australia Border Force Act further entrenches the culture of secrecy around our asylum seeker policy at the cost of open and transparent government. That is something we should be worried about.
Picking a fight with a media company should not be a politician’s priority. AAP/Nikki Short

Hockey’s defamation win is dark news for democracy and free speech

The elephant in the room in the just-concluded defamation case between Joe Hockey and Fairfax Media was the actual story being attacked. Media organisations ought to be able to instigate the debate without fear of reprisals by litigious politicians.
Bill Shorten’s support – and that of his party – is almost entirely a function of public perceptions of Tony Abbott’s performance. AAP/Nikki Short

Shorten’s trust deficit is limiting Labor’s opportunities

Bill Shorten has neither built the profile nor provided the performance that renders him prime minister-in-waiting rather than fragile whinger-in-chief.
Karen Nettleton, whose daughter and grandchildren are currently in Syria, has a made a public plea for her family to be allowed to return to Australia. ABCTV

Even Khaled Sharrouf’s family has the right to come home

Whatever we think of the family of foreign fighter Khaled Sharrouf or their circumstances, they enjoy the right to return on the same footing as every other Australian citizen.
No society is immune from the rise of ‘us and them’ intolerance expressed through anger and a desire for brutal revenge. EPA/Ian Langsdon

Is Islamic State evidence we are living in a ‘post-honour’ world?

Islamic State is symptomatic of a disturbed and troubled social order. The vast crisis of dislocated people and communities is being expressed in anger, intolerance and perverted notions of honour.
Persecution based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex variation is recognised as a legitimate ground for seeking refugee status. AAP/Terry Scott

Out of the frying pan and into the fire: the plight of LGBTI refugees

It is estimated that there are 175 million LGBTI persons living in persecutory environments worldwide. Only around 2500 asylum claims founded on sexual orientation or gender identity are successful annually.
Our individual happiness, the quality of our relationships and community well-being are closely interconnected. Shutterstock/Rawpixel

Pursuing happiness: it’s mostly a matter of surviving well together

We now know that we cannot spend our way to happiness nor pursue it as an individual goal. It turns out that happiness is built on the foundations of good relationships and broad well-being.