Analysis

A chimpanzee cultural collapse is underway, and it’s driven by humans

Language, music, and art often vary between adjacent groups of people, and help us identify not only ourselves but also others. Authors: The Conversation And in recent years rich debates have emerged and spawned research into culture in non-human animals. Scientists first observed chimpanzees using tools more than half a century ago. As this complex behaviour appeared to differ across different populations, researchers concluded that tool use in apes was socially learned and therefore a cultural behaviour. This was the ... Read More »

The Politics of Selling Weapons to Algeria

Algiers looks to shift away from its dependance on Moscow. One of the biggest buyers of Russian weapons systems on the African continent wants the United States to revisit the restrictions that prevent it from buying military gear made in America. Maggie Ybarra The National Interest Algeria’s ambassador to the United States, Madjid Bouguerra, told the National Interestthat his country is looking expand its weapons acquisition program and improve its military-to-military relationship with the United States, which has been on a… ... Read More »

Does Russia See a War Threat in Warsaw?

The United States need not further inflame the new cold war with unnecessary and provocative basing arrangements in Eastern Europe. Lyle J. Goldstein The National Interest In a surprising twist on Ostpolitik, the United States has become entranced by the charms of Poland. Warsaw has diligently sent contingents off to Afghanistan, and agreed last year to increase their numbers. It has also become a reasonably large market for U.S. armaments. While Washington admittedly did not get too excited about Poland’s global climate change conference last ... Read More »

After years of vicious culture wars, hope may yet triumph over hate in Australian politics

For a generation, politics has been wearying for those of good heart and outright damaging to those targeted in the culture wars unleashed in the 1990s. How this happened, and whether it will continue, are… Chris Wallace The Conversation The traditional post-war political struggle pitted class and concerns about inequality, opportunity and redistribution against capital and concerns about profits, property rights and the shoring up of… Over the past two decades, the moorings of this “left” versus “right” paradigm of ... Read More »

Brazil and Venezuela clash over migrants, humanitarian aid and closed borders

Venezuela’s borders are now dangerous flashpoints in a tense showdown between President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaidó. Authors: The Conversation The United States, Colombia and Brazil – all supporters of Guaidó’s quest to unseat Maduro – have amassed hundreds of tons of medical and food supplies at Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and… Maduro, who condemns the humanitarian convoys as the pretext for a U.S.-led military invasion, refuses to allow the aid through. The aid standoff grew ... Read More »

Five books on work by French authors that you should read on your commute

An emerging genre of fiction in France is providing an unlikely brand of escapism. Growing numbers of French writers are choosing work as their subject matter – and it seems that readers can’t… Amy Wigelsworth The Conversation The prix du roman d’entreprise et du travail, the French prize for the best business or work-related novel, is testament to the sustained popularity of workplace fiction across the Channel. The prize has been awarded annually since 2009, and this year’s winner will ... Read More »

Vital conversations: older women have their say about the challenges of life in a city like Melbourne

Who decides what matters in the lives of voters? In the run-up to the 2018 Victorian state election, media focused on a few potential big issues of concern or interest. Harriet Radermacher The Conversation Newspapers featured pieces on the consequences of uncapped population growth in Victoria, particularly suburban housing sprawl and unaffordability. Public transport and the growing economic divide between communities also attracted media attention. Against this background, and in light of concerns raised by previous research, we wanted to engage with older women ... Read More »

Protecting Women’s Space in Politics

Women human rights defenders around the globe are facing heightened threats of violence and repression. Isabelle Arradon ICG Sometimes they are targeted for being activists, and sometimes just for being women. World leaders should do much more to secure space for women’s safe participation in public life. In early January 2019, unknown gunmen shot dead Maritza Isabel Quiroz Leiva, a 60-year-old Colombian land rights activist on a small farm near the Caribbean city of Santa Marta. Her killing was a stark ... Read More »

All about juries: why do we actually need them and can they get it ‘wrong’?

There has been some debate over the recent conviction of George Pell, whose first trial ended with a hung jury, and the second a unanimous guilty verdict. Jacqui Horan The Conversation People are questioning our justice system, the potential bias of the jury, and whether the initial hung verdict invalidates the second, unanimous one. So, why should Australians trust 12 inexperienced people to sit in judgment on our most serious criminal trials, and get the verdict right? The importance of ... Read More »

Socrates in love: how the ideas of this woman are at the root of Western philosophy

Where did Socrates, the foundational figure of Western philosophy, get the inspiration for his original ideas about truth, love, justice, courage and knowledge? Armand D’Angour The Conversation New research I’ve conducted reveals that as a young man in 5th-century BC Athens, he came into contact with a fiercely intelligent woman, Aspasia of Miletus. I argue that her ideas about love and transcendence inspired him to formulate key aspects of his thought (as transmitted by Plato). If the evidence for this ... Read More »

What is socialism?

“Socialism is not about the environment, it’s not about justice, it is not about virtue. Socialism is about only one thing: It’s called power for the ruling class.” Glenn Kessler The Washington Post — President Trump, speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 2 “Under the guise of Medicare-for-all and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same, tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and have stifled the liberties of millions over the past century. That system ... Read More »

Burnside: why I have decided to stand at the next election

I’ve always said I wouldn’t go into politics. “Don’t wrestle with a pig,” the saying goes, “because you both get covered in mud and the pig loves it.” Julian Burnside The Canberra Times But I am breaking that vow because our political system is broken. I have been a critic for too long: it’s time to throw my hat in the ring. Representative democracy depends on our parliamentarians actually representing us. Unfortunately, that’s just not happening at the moment. Far ... Read More »

A New Generation of Activists Circumvents Iraq’s Political Paralysis

Researching the talks on forming a new Iraqi ruling coalition, our Senior Adviser for Iraq Maria Fantappie finds a country whose youth, women, civil society, officials and even politicians are hungry for bottom-up change to a stalemated, top… Maria Fantappie ICG BAGHDAD – I have spent much of my career – as an academic, an adviser to the EU and a policy analyst – speaking with high-level policymakers in Iraq. In my many meetings, I have tried to get a ... Read More »

Brexit Is Hell…

Over time, public conceptions of hell have migrated from the realm of religious belief to that of literature and political aphorism. Harold James Project Syndicate And nowhere is the idea of eternal damnation as punishment for one’s own choices more appropriate than in the case of the United Kingdom as it hurdles toward the Brexit abyss. PRINCETON – European Council President Donald Tusk recently sparked controversy by saying there is a “special place in hell” for those who advocated Brexit ... Read More »

The sounds of Speechless, where words are superfluous

Speechless is the new opera by award-winning composer Cat Hope, co-commissioned by the Perth Festival and Tura New Music. Stephen Chinna The Conversation This is Hope’s powerful response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2014 report into children in immigration detention. Hope created what she describes as a “graphic score” derived from drawings and graphics extracted from the Report. This system of “animated graphic notation” is explained by Tura as “the representation of music through the use of visual symbols ... Read More »

Human memory: How we make, remember, and forget memories

As we access a memory, many parts of our brains rapidly talk to each other, represented here by colorized fibers. Michael Gresko National Geographic Human memory happens in many parts of the brain at once, and some types of memories stick around longer than others. From the moment we are born, our brains are bombarded by an immense amount of information about ourselves and the world around us. So, how do we hold on to everything we’ve learned and experienced? ... Read More »