Australian politics, society & culture

Current Issue
How charities transform the clothes we throw away
By Delia Falconer

In 1813, as the Napoleonic Wars created a yarn shortage in Great Britain, a Yorkshire weaver called Benjamin Law worked out how to add rags to virgin wool to create an inferior yarn called “shoddy”. By 1855, factories were grinding 35 million pounds of rags annually, though a negative public perception, which persists in the definition of “shoddy”, clung to the industry. In 1871 Charles Dickens defended it as an “honest imposture” that employed hundreds of hands, though in Bleak House he condemned his rag-and-bottle merchant, Mr Krook, to the fate of spontaneous combustion.

Current Issue
The US and China’s struggle for power in Asia
By Hugh White
China is not the first country to build military outposts on tiny rocks and reefs in the South China Sea. Several other countries laying claim to these contested flyspecks have done so before. But as with so many things, China has now gone much further, and faster, than anyone else.
September 2015
Bringing Timothy Conigrave’s ‘Holding the Man’ to the screen
By Steve Dow
In 1995, an Australian memoir was published posthumously. Its author had died the previous year. Holding the Man, by Melbourne-born actor and playwright Timothy Conigrave, was a balm to thousands of gay men, many of whom had lost friends and lovers in the AIDS crisis.
Kevin Rudd gave the ALP its best chance for stable leadership
Richard Denniss
Self-interest can have surprising consequences. Just as capitalism is premised on the idea that the enrichment of the few will solve the poverty of the masses, Kevin Rudd’s efforts to permanently install himself as ALP leader may have saved the party by making it far more democratic.
On the broad-sweep feminism of Laurie Penny
Anwen Crawford
Laurie Penny is a 28-year-old English feminist, author of four books, and a contributing editor at The New Statesman, which might be called Britain’s centre-left newspaper or its left-of-centre newspaper, depending on how far to the left one is standing.

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The treasurer needs to find some new solutions for our slowing economy
Nick Feik

Facial recognition helps Northern Territory police fight crime “The system deployed by the NT police allows personnel to search through their database of images and match against CCTV footage and photos taken from body-worn camera videos, drones and mobile phones. To date, 100,000 images...

ISIS is systematically destroying Palmyra, top antiquities official says “Syria’s top antiquities official has said that the world is witnessing the systematic destruction of Palmyra, and that he has lost all hope of the historic city’s treasures being salvaged...

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July 2015
Meet the Melburnians keeping Esperanto alive
By Jeff Sparrow
I’ve come to Melbourne’s Federation Square this Sunday afternoon searching for the followers of a man who had called himself Dr Hopeful.
July 2015
Favours and foreign affairs: Joko Widodo’s first year as Indonesian president
By Hamish McDonald
There comes a moment in a long evening of wayang orang, the theatre of Java based on the great Hindu epics, when the drama cuts from strident speeches by gorgeously costumed warriors and princes against painted backdrops of palaces.
June 2015
A win for David Cameron and the Conservatives in the UK was inevitable
By Guy Rundle
“Pull over here,” I told the driver of the black cab as I spotted a bottle shop. We were headed out of the tangle of London’s Piccadilly Circus to the boho-prosperous calm of Primrose Hill, an old haunt of threadbare leftists, now gone upmarket.
Current Issue
On lifestyle diseases and quick fixes
By Karen Hitchcock
Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. – Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, 1930
August 2015
Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Greece’s economic crisis
By Christos Tsiolkas
Down the road from my studio, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, there is a small cafe next door to a tobacconist. Both are owned by Australians of Greek heritage.
June 2015
On pregnancy and birth, tradition and family
By Alice Pung
“What are you doing?” my hospital roommate asks. I’m standing by the door of our shared bathroom, towel in hand, waiting for the nurse to return with a shower cap. In antenatal classes I was told a warm shower is comforting when going into labour, but I don’t want to give birth...
July 2015
Too many kangaroos loose in Canberra
By Sam Vincent
The eastern grey kangaroo has a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour. By the end of its life, my ute could do 80. The comparison is not academic: driving home from parties in my early 20s, my muffler farting through Canberra’s northern fringe, mobs of 10, 20, 30 roos would slip...
June 2015
A conversation with Julian Assange
By John Keane
Since the last time we were together inside his prison lodgings at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, a few things have changed. Julian Assange has grown a beard, looks more pallid and pauses when I ask after his general health.


September 2015
Jess Ribeiro’s ‘Kill It Yourself’ and Sui Zhen’s ‘Secretly Susan’
By Anwen Crawford
Jess Ribeiro’s new album, Kill It Yourself, is like an American road trip with a detour via Melbourne, where she is based, or maybe via Perth. The pace is languid, and the mood is dusky. The Triffids once travelled this musical route, as did The Bad Seeds, sensing the affinity between America’s vast terrain and our own.
July 2015
Power and resistance at the 56th Venice Biennale
By Julie Ewington
The Venice Biennale is the biggest show in town, in any town. Of all the international biennials and triennials that showcase contemporary art, it is the oldest, the grandest.
June 2015
Punk and gospel influences combine to make the personal political on Algiers’ self-titled debut
By Anwen Crawford
Image of Algiers
Late in April, as protests grew in Baltimore over the death of an African-American man, Freddie Gray, who died after sustaining a severe spinal injury while in police custody, a young black Baltimore resident named Kwame Rose confronted Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera over the...
August 2015
Marina Abramović in Australia
By Fiona McGregor
You enter on condition of silence, leaving your possessions in a locker. A video instructs you to perform exercises that will release the stress from your body. It is the deep, sonorous voice of Marina Abramović, with the body of someone else doing the movements.
July 2015
By John Kinsella
An on-drive to the boundary the ball going on and on through dust and dirt on and on past the shed all the way past the chook pen and on bouncing over bark flaked and fallen from wandoos and on over dried twigs and branches