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A feral cat by the roadside. EPA/Nic Bothma

How desexing cats saves lives

Thousands of unowned cats wander Australian streets every night. Some are feral, existing in self-sustaining populations not reliant on people, while others are semi-feral and are either fed by people…
蒋少武

Russell Brand, political theorist

British comic Russell Brand has gained further notoriety of late, but not for the usual reasons. His recent interview with Jeremy Paxman, the too-clever-by-half doyen of television interviewers, has gone…
US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on a recent visit to the Middle East. EPA/STR

The geopolitics of fracking

When US Secretary of State John Kerry made his most recent visit to the Middle East, he made a special point of visiting Saudi Arabia to reassure the kingdom’s ageing rulers that the US still sees them…
Australia has now been caught up in the web of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks about spying. How might it affect relations with countries in our region? EPA/Ole Spata

Spies like us: Australia, America and the Asia-Pacific

Who would have thought it? Governments, it seems, have been spying on each other. As revelations go, this may be slightly less surprising than the news that the British tabloids are entirely without scruples…
Close to 90% of Australia’s farmland remains locally owned. Flickr: Cha222

Why not let agriculture benefit from foreign investment?

Why do we clamour to keep foreign-owned car makers here, paying them billions of dollars to stay, while being wary of foreign investment in farms? Around 0.1% of foreign investment last year was in agriculture…
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is in the spotlight again. jontintinjordan/Flickr

Australia’s biggest ‘China threat’ is not Huawei, but itself

In a move that has drawn criticism from Chinese authorities, the Abbott government is upholding a ban on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from tendering for the National Broadband Network, after…
Going, going: the Abbott government appears to have ditched the centrepiece of the Gillard government’s foreign policy, the Australia in the Asian Century white paper. AAP/Paul Miller

Is this the end of the ‘Asian century’?

In case you missed the news, the “Asian century” is over. Or it is as far as the Abbott government is concerned. In its continuing revamp of the apparatus and output of government, the Coalition has officially…
Partisanship aside, extreme weather events linked to climate change pose an enormous threat to the Western, legal-political system of government. EPA/Steve Pope

The great governmental challenge of climate change

The recently released fifth report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stresses the connection between climate change and severe weather events around the world, including devastating…
There are a record 168 billionaires in China, according to the most recent Forbes list. Adam Nelson

Communist fat cats: Forbes counts 168 billionaires in China

“To get rich is glorious” – Deng Xiaoping’s famous aphorism has clearly been taken to heart by at least 168 people in China. That’s the number of billionaires identified in Forbes’ annual China Rich List…
Good for a holiday, but other institutions are overtaking APEC as a useful diplomatic forum for Australian trade interests. EPA/Mast Irham

More form than substance at APEC

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum concluded last night as leaders, foreign ministers and trade delegations wrapped up a week in Bali. You’d be forgiven for not noticing. There are two…
Tony Abbott has vowed to strengthen Australia’s ties with China, including a potential free trade agreement with the growing superpower. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Middle power meets Middle Kingdom: Abbott looks to China

Tony Abbott’s initial forays into foreign relations are exceeding expectations. True, the bar was set pretty low for many critics, but the new team is clearly intent on sending positive signals about the…
Tony Abbott has promised public sector cuts - but research suggests there are more effective ways to improve productivity. AAP

Why take a stick to public service productivity when a carrot works?

One of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most steadfast election promises was the axeing of 12,000 public sector jobs. Indeed, his first act after being sworn in was to sack three senior public service “mandarins…
Much has changed from the first Colombo plan, but Australia’s engagement with Asia should start at home. Asia image from www.shutterstock.com

Colombo II: send students to Asia but don’t ignore the Asian students at home

Now it’s in government, the Coalition says one of its top priorities is international education. Along with policies to encourage international students to study here, Australian students, too, will be…
The decline of digging mammals, such as this bilby, is threatening Australia’s ecosystems. AAP Image/National Parks and Wildlife

Losing Australia’s diggers is hurting our ecosystems

Despite once being described as common, mammals have been lost across the Australian landscape over the last 200 years. The impact has been particularly severe on Australia’s digging mammals, including…
The deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall demonstrates that a lack of security in Somalia has a direct impact on Kenya. EPA/Kabir Dhanji

Kenya mall attacks: Somalia’s anarchy spreads

The Somali-based Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab’s weekend attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi - which has left at least 60 people dead - poses a significant security threat not just…
Despite his electoral success earlier this year, WA premier Colin Barnett has suffered a string of economic blows - the latest being a credit rating downgrade and the rejection of his proposed raise in the GST. AAP/Theron Kirkman

GST rebuff and credit downgrade add to Barnett’s annus horribilis

2013 hasn’t been a good year for Western Australian premier Colin Barnett. Standard and Poor’s recent downgrade of his government’s credit rating continues a pattern. It is not an aberration. Barnett’s…
The new government faces sorting out a complex mess of stalled talks on various free trade agreements. AAP

Why embracing free trade may be more complicated than it looks

If headlines are to be believed, the new Coalition government is set to “embrace free trade” in its first term in office. In announcing his new Ministry last week, Tony Abbott has made significant changes…
US president Barack Obama has been criticised recently for not taking a hardline enough approach on military action in Syria. EPA/Michael Reynolds

In praise of prevarication: Barack Obama’s Syria strategy

Being the most powerful man in the world isn’t what it used to be. US president Barack Obama is currently being ridiculed for his apparent inability to decide how to handle the conflict in Syria. American…

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