The Conversation (299)

There are four options for forming a German government next week โ€“ here's how they work

German voters are about to go to the polls to elect a new government โ€“ except, of course, they won't. Germany's proportional electoral system has ensured that only once in the history of the Bundesrepublik has a party won a majority in parliament. Current polls suggest the Christian Democrats and ...

Lessons from the Doklam Pass: how little Bhutan faced down China over a border dispute

ShutterstockIn one of the less reported stories of the summer, India and China came to a stand-off over on a plateau in the Himalayas called the Doklam Pass. This small strip of land separating the Indian state of Sikkim from its neighbour Bhutan, is one of several areas disputed by China and ...

How Alberto Giacometti's fragile world view still resonates

The life and art of Alberto Giacometti have received plenty of attention in 2017. A major exhibition of his work was held at Tate Modern in London, and then came the release of Stanley Tucci's biopic, Final Portrait, a film which focuses on the final year of the artist's life. Giacometti, who died ...

Abbott's disruption is raising the question: where will it end?

Tony Abbott has reportedly threatened to cross the floor if there is any attempt to legislate a Clean Energy Target. Mick Tsikas/AAPEven in today's often bizarre political environment, Tuesday night's encounter between Tony Abbott, Peter Credlin and Alan Jones on Sky News was surreal. Credlin, ...

The end of the world is coming โ€“ just not this Saturday

Boris Ryaposov via ShutterstockAccording to some largely evangelical Christians in the US and UK, an alignment of stars and planets foretold in Revelation 12 indicates the world is going to end this Saturday, September 23, 2017. It's not clear how many people actually believe this prophecy, but it ...

Dark tourism can be voyeuristic and exploitative โ€“ or if handled correctly, do a world of good

Federico Zovadelli / Shutterstock.comDark tourism is in vogue. It involves travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre. Trips to former concentrations camps, sites of genocide, places of mass destruction, prisons and former battlefields are all part of the dark ...

Too much information? More than 80% of children have an online presence by the age of two

'Smile for the birdy.' ShutterstockA toddler with birthday cake smeared across his face, grins delightedly at his mother. Minutes later, the image appears on Facebook. A not uncommon scenario โ€“ 42% of UK parents share photos of their children online with half of these parents sharing photos at ...

Failing medical implants are causing hundreds of thousands of people misery

edwardolive/ShutterstockThousands of women across the world have been left in terrible pain after being implanted with transvaginal mesh โ€“ a device to treat urinary incontinence or prolapse. How did a medical implant that has caused so much damage to these women's bodies and lives come to be sold? ...

How Greece's gold mining trouble could derail CETA

shutterstock.comThe Greek government has been doing its best to present the country as a hotspot for investors. That includes investment from within the EU, but also abroad โ€“ with funds having arrived already from China, Qatar and Canada. So it was a blow when Canadian mining firm Eldorado Gold ...

Long-hidden World War II files offer another way to prosecute war crimes

This is not a golden age for international justice. Donald Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has reportedly decided to close the US's war crimes office. China, Russia and South Africa, among others, continue to resist the International Criminal Court , while the world has yet to see proper ...

Before you name your baby, consider this...

'I'm called what?!' ShutterstockEvery year, the UK's Office for National Statistics publishes data on the latest trends in baby forenames. The most popular names for baby girls now include Amelia, Olivia, and Emily, and for baby boys, Oliver, Jack and Harry. Aside from showing what's in' and what's ...

To me, golliwogs are racist โ€“ but a tearoom tangle and a new poll shows Britain disagrees

ShutterstockThere is a cafรฉ at the foot of the South Downs. On the wall hangs a golliwog. And that bothers me. So much so that, on discovering it a few weeks ago, I got into a heated argument with the owners which resulted in them calling the police, me contacting the council, and, in the end, ...

Smoking bans are sparking a rise in violence and disorder in UK prisons

Korionov/ShutterstockThere have been numerous reports of riots and violent clashes in UK prisons this year. It's always difficult to pinpoint the causes of such flash-points, but an outbreak of violence at the privately run HMP Birmingham in September suggests that the prison smoking ban could be ...

How Taylor Swift has become a femme fatale ... with a little help from Sylvia Plath

Taylor Swift. ShutterstockIn the opening shots of the video for her record breaking new single Look What You Made Me Do', we see the zombie formerly known as Taylor Swift claw her way out of a grave. This shovel-wielding revenant is a far cry from the girl next door' who, in the video for her 2006 ...

China's crackdown on cryptocurrency trading โ€“ a sign of things to come

An illustration photo of Bitcoin coins ReutersThe Chinese government's decision to order several Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies exchanges to close shows how much of a threat they are perceived to be to financial stability and social order in China. The decision to also ban initial coin offerings ...

First refugees to leave for the United States

About 50 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island will leave in the next week to ten days for resettlement in the US. This is the first batch under the deal the Turnbull government struck with the Obama administration, which US President Donald Trump has reluctantly agreed to honour โ€“ although the ...

Bali's Mount Agung threatens to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years

A marked increase in the number of earthquakes happening below Mount Agung volcano in eastern Bali, Indonesia, over the past few weeks has authorities keeping a close watch on the situation. The latest alert issued by the national and local government agencies now forbids climbing of the mountain ...

A cleanish energy target gets us nowhere

ShutterstockIt seems that the one certainty about any clean energy target set by the present government is that it will not drive sufficient progress towards a clean, affordable, reliable energy future. At best, it will provide a safety net to ensure that some cleanish energy supply capacity is ...

Saving amphibians from a deadly fungus means acting without knowing all the answers

A male boreal toad waits for opportunities to mate near a Colorado mountain lake. Brittany Mosher, CC BY-NDThe calls of frogs on warm nights in the spring are a welcome sound, telling listeners that the seasons are changing and summer is coming. Today, however, ponds that once echoed with the ...

Why an ad offering meat to the Hindu god Ganesha is offensive

The Hindu god Ganesha. Anant Nath Sharma, CC BY-NC-NDA recent ad from the meat industry in Australia, seeking to promote lamb as a food that people from a wide range of religious backgrounds can consume, has given offense to many Hindus in Australia and internationally. In Australia, the ad prompted ...

The South Vietnamese who fled the fall of Saigon -- and those who returned

Vietnamese at a camp in Guam seeking repatriation, September 1975. National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 319, Box 19, declassification number 984082., CC BYMore than 120,000 people fled Vietnam after the North Vietnamese captured Saigon on April 30, 1975. This chaotic evacuation ...

'Medicare for all' could be cheaper than you think

Some of the original advocates for Medicare in the 1960s hoped to eventually extend it to everyone. AP PhotoPublic support for single-payer health care has been rising in recent months amid failed Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. That's perhaps why Sen. Bernie ...

Flood insurance is broken. Here are some ways to fix it

Immokalee, Florida sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Irma. AP Photo/Gerald HerbertHundreds of thousands of Americans whose homes were damaged or destroyed by flooding from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma don't know how they will pay for repairs, rebuilding or replacement. Likewise, the nation as a ...

How the latest effort to repeal Obamacare would affect millions

From left, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. AP Photo/Andrew HarnikAt the end of July, the nation held its collective breath as Senate ...

Science communicators must consider short-term objectives while keeping their eyes on the prize

Planning a communication strategy isn't unethical. Have a nice day Photo/Shutterstock.comMost scientists say they got into science to make the world a better place and recognize this means sharing what they learn with a range of other people. But deciding to engage also means deciding what to ...

Some of the best parts of autonomous vehicles are already here

Don't overlook immediate safety in a search for something better. sraphotohut/Shutterstock.comFully automated cars are still many years away. Amid the government activity and potential for social benefits, it's important not to lose sight of smaller improvements that could more immediately save ...

Trump speaks at the UN: 5 takeaways

Trump talks tough at the U.N. General Assembly. Reuters/Lucas JacksonIt is a short distance from Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue to the United Nations headquarters on First Avenue, but these are different worlds. Donald Trump's native world is one of unilateralism and competition, with more than a hint ...

Victoria gets serious on its political donations rules โ€“ now it's the federal government's turn

The Andrews government's proposed reforms will significantly improve Victoria's donations system. AAP/Mal FaircloughVictorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a suite of reforms to the state's political donations system. It includes: a cap on donations by individuals, unions and corporations of ...

New Zealand's health service performs well, but inequities remain high

A key focus has been on strengthening primary health care to reduce demand on hospitals, but there is little evidence of progress. from www.shutterstock.comThis article is part of our global series about health systems, examining different health care systems all over the world. New Zealand's health ...

Health Check: what's better for you, fresh, dried or frozen fruit?

Frozen, dried and freeze-dried fruit are certainly convenient. But are they as good for you as fresh fruit? from www.shutterstock.comEat more fruit and vegetables' is one of the most common recommendations we hear when we're encouraged to eat healthily. But when it comes to eating more fruit, we get ...

My favourite album: Hole's Live Through This

For someone who spent her youth living in small towns in regional Australia, Hole were the accessible end of the early 90s feminist moment in rock music . And by accessible', I mean not sonically, but as something I could access at all. I could read about Bikini Kill in the music magazines at the ...

Australia must sign the prohibition on nuclear weapons: here's why

On Wednesday a historic ceremony will take place in the UN General Assembly โ€“ the opening for signature of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it. More than 40 are expected to sign today, and more will sign ...

3D printers: A revolutionary frontier for medicine

Surgeons at the University of Saskatchewan use a 3D printed human brain to plan complex neurosurgical procedures for patients with movement disorders. Author providedMission control on earth receives an urgent communication from Mars that an astronaut has fractured his shinbone. Using a handheld ...

All mouth and no ears: Settlers with Opinions

The Scream, by Kent Monkman , is part of a traveling exhibition this year on colonized Canada: Shame And Prejudice: A Story Of Resilience. Kent MonkmanIt's a depressingly common experience for Indigenous people in this country. It happens on a daily basis: At work with colleagues, in encounters with ...

Lessons for Canada in New Zealand's Indigenous-friendly electoral system

Canada's former prime minister, Stephen Harper, is greeted by a Maori warrior in New Zealand in November 2014. New Zealand's electoral system allows for far greater Indigenous involvement than Canada's. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldCanada's electoral system needs a New Zealand-style overhaul. The ...

As Victorian MPs debate assisted dying, it is vital they examine the evidence, not just the rhetoric

Victorian MPs are about to debate an assisted dying bill. How can they sift through competing claims? ShutterstockAssisted dying in Australia is no longer a matter of if' but when'. Will the when' be 2017 through the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill likely to be tabled in the Victorian parliament this ...

It may not be beautiful but the new ten dollar note is pretty secure

You might notice a new blue and gold addition to your wallet in the next few weeks as the Reserve Bank of Australia releases the new A$10 note into circulation. The new series of Australian banknotes are not a designer's dream but they are the strongest yet in terms of preventing counterfeiting. ...

Preventing Murray-Darling water theft: a space agency can help Australia manage federal resources

This is the first article in the series Australia's place in space, where we'll explore the strengths and weaknesses, along with the past, present and the future of Australia's space presence and activities. An independent report into allegations of water theft and corruption in the Murray-Darling ...

Curious Kids: Why is the Earth round?

The mass of the Earth is big enough that the gravitational force it creates can pull the hard shape of ice, rock and metal into a sphere. NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data from Miguel Romรกn, NASA's Goddard Space Flight CenterThis is an article from Curious ...

Interest in tiny houses is growing, so who wants them and why?

A tiny house in the backyard appeals to some as a solution that offers both affordability and sustainability. Think Out Loud/flick, CC BY-NCTiny houses are now so popular that someone was charged with stealing one last week. A social media campaign tracked its journey from Canberra to Hervey Bay. My ...

Hurricane Irma nursing home deaths shows stark dilemma of whether to stay put or evacuate

The death of Florida nursing home residents whose air-conditioning failed last week during Hurricane Irma highlights the tragic consequences of some of our most vulnerable citizens during a natural disaster. So, it's easy to assume evacuating nursing home residents in such situations is the safest ...

Fred Williams in the You Yangs: a turning point for Australian art

Detail from Fred Williams You Yang Pond 1963 oil on composition board Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Gift of Godfrey Phillips International Pty Ltd 1968 ยฉ Estate of Fred Williams He changed the way we see our country: an achievement which will live long after all of us are gone. ...

Vietnam's typhoon disaster highlights the plight of its poorest people

Six people lost their lives when Typhoon Doksuri smashed into central Vietnam on September 16, the most powerful storm in a decade to hit the country. Although widespread evacuations prevented a higher death toll, the impact on the region's most vulnerable people will be extensive and lasting. ...

NDIS failing to catch children with late-onset difficulties

Early years settings, like preschools and kindergarten, are often the first place social difficulties are identified. ShutterstockThe rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in selected sites in 2016 signified a shift in cultural views about disability. Historical views were based on a ...

Forgotten fossils hold clues to how ancestors of mammals cared for their young

We all know that mammals protect and care for their young. In some cases, they also live within complex social groups. Was this always the case? The skeletal anatomy of mammals' early ancestors has been studied for more than 150 years. But until relatively recently, not much was known about their ...

The environmental impact of a coal plant on Kenya's coast is being underplayed

An old coal-burning power plant in China. REUTERS/David GrayChina is transforming its sources of energy domestically in a bid to reverse decades of environmental pollution. But the switch to renewable energy has brought about a conundrum: what to do with the jobs and industries that have no future ...

What KPMG's Gupta imbroglio says about corruption in South Africa

ShutterstockAs far as corporate accountability goes, the recent announcement that the CEO and seven senior executives at auditing and consultancy firm KMPG in South Africa have resigned is a welcome development. By resigning, the KPMG executives reinforced the principle of executive responsibility. ...

The trade in body parts of people with albinism is driven by myth and international inaction

Witchcraft related beliefs pose serious human rights violations for people with Albinism. In the last decade, close to 200 killings and more than 500 attacks on people with albinism have been reported in 27 sub-Saharan African countries. Tanzania has the highest number of recorded attacks globally ...

Ambitious leader speech sees Vince Cable aiming for the top job

As the Liberal Democrats met for their first conference since the 2017 general election, many were feeling disappointed at the state of things. The party came away with a mere 12 election victories after mistakenly believing the Brexit referendum had given it a branding which would help it capture ...

The Pap smear isn't used to diagnose cancer โ€“ but it could be

Close-up of abnormal cells from Pap smear. Komsan Loonprom/ShutterstockDoctors can find it hard to diagnose cervical cancer in young women because the same symptoms, such as bleeding between periods or after sex, are common in women with genital infections or taking contraceptives. For decades the ...