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Invincible Nikitas learns to lose

05 April 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Nikitas on the track at Ancient Olympia, wearing the 'crown' his father made.My grandson Nikitas is ten. When his name was chosen I was haunted by memories of Russian leader Khruschev and his long-ago shoe-banging performance at the United Nations. My son and daughter-in-law patiently explained that their son was to be called after Nikitaras, a hero of the Greek War of Independence. Thankfully, young Nikitas does not divide the world into friends and enemies, at least not so far. But he is very competitive; perhaps his name, which means invincible, influences his outlook.

Life beyond Brussels and Paris terror

03 April 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Brussels explosionWhen suicide bombers struck Brussels, I was travelling far from home, in southern Italy. The news evoked in me a sense of vulnerability, for within days I would board a series of flights from Reggio Calabria to Rome to Abu Dhabi and then Sydney. For a moment, it seemed the terrorists had achieved what they set out to do: spread fear and distrust far beyond the site of their attacks, across countries and continents and oceans so that eventually the whole world would be infected.

Sanders preaches progress, but Clinton embodies it

10 March 2016 | Megan Graham

Hillary ClintonEven if his views and rhetoric are radical, everything else about Sanders is so within our comfort zones that they become more palatable. It's difficult for any progressive to get into power without aligning with powerful groups, whether they be politics, class, culture or gender-based. And Clinton is already disqualified from a club with arguably the most stubborn membership of all - the 'boys club'. For any feminist, it's hard to view the installation of the first female president as anything but progressive.

View from the brink of the age of Drumpf

03 March 2016 | Jim McDermott

Donald DrumpfOn Sunday Drumpf demurred when asked how he felt about former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke voicing his support for a Drumpf presidency. And yet he still swept the polls in the American Super Tuesday primaries, racking up wins in eight of 11 states. Under Barack Obama the US has had eight years of largely responsible, idealistic executive leadership. Yet rather than shepherding in a new hope-filled era, we find ourselves standing before a chasm of largely uncontrolled id.

Good and bad news about the Syria ceasefire

24 February 2016 | Justin Glyn

Putin on ceasefireThere is cause for both optimism and scepticism in the news that the US and Russia have agreed a ceasefire in Syria. On the face of it, one of the world's bloodiest civil wars is about to come to an end; an end to be guaranteed by the two biggest, best armed militaries on the planet. This should be excellent news for everybody, not least the long suffering civilian population of one of the most bombed countries on earth. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot.

Why Australia is missing the revolution

18 February 2016 | J. R. Hennessy

Donald DrumpfThe aftershocks of the late-century push for liberalisation and the GFC have bred generations of dislocated voters who seek answers outside of the limited solutions of centrist governance. This provides ample opportunity for true progressive change, as seen in Europe and Latin America, and now the US and UK. Where's Australia? Nowhere to be seen. It is hard to imagine a truly progressive candidate emerging from our ossified political structures. There are a few reasons for this.

A train traveller's view of life on both sides of the track

11 February 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Crossing the tracks in BangkokMy little sisters and I stand at the window and stare out at the passing world. The youngest is not yet two, and though she will grow to be six feet tall one day, for now she must stand on tiptoes to take it all in. We see children running beside the train, laughing and waving. My mother throws them the sandwiches left over from yesterday's lunch. Railway lines take the path of least resistance and the routes of most gain, and so they bring us right up close to the people who live alongside them.

Electing a president in an age of superheroes

07 February 2016 | Jim McDermott

Donald TrumpMany Americans want a President who speaks to their deepest dreams and ideals. A champion. Trump's vision of reality is the polar opposite of Obama's, a hellscape where foreigners, the unemployed (and women) are eroding society. But, like Obama, he has positioned himself as a champion of those filled with frustration, insisting it doesn't have to be this way. Bernie Sanders is in many ways the Trump of the left, a political outsider who says what progressive Americans have long been thinking.

Offers of sanctuary brighten Australia's refugee dark age

07 February 2016 | Justin Glyn

Gosford Anglican Church sign offering sanctuary to asylum seekersChurches across Australia have made headlines by offering sanctuary to those who stand to be returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, including 37 babies and a raped five-year-old whose attacker still resides there. In doing so, they have been rediscovering an old concept and reminding the government what refugee law was for in the first place. As in the Dark Ages, where the organs of the state are unable or unwilling to protect the vulnerable, it is the churches who are speaking out.

The Bernie Sanders Factor in US and Australian elections

04 February 2016 | Fatima Measham

Bernie SandersThe Bernie Sanders phenomenon in the US, like Corbyn in the UK and Podemos in Spain, demonstrates the rhetorical potency of renewal; of politics not as usual. It is the sort of thing that resonates with disaffected young people. While it is not entirely sensible to extrapolate developments in the US to Australia, it is worth speculating on the impact of our own changing demographics. Are the major parties equipped to take advantage of these shifts? Are they appealing to a new Australia that is already here?

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