Politics & Society

Surveillance: What is it good for?

Surveillance: What is it good for?

Online monitoring raises serious questions about privacy and rights, but where justified it can be used for good if organisations consider wider issues like transparency and fairness. 

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Will China be number one?

Will China be number one?

Will China be Number One, that is, the most powerful and influential state on earth, soon?  This Big Question has already been answered in the affirmative by some commentators…but not all. 

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How do rich politicians avoid paying tax?

How do rich politicians avoid paying tax?

IRS records reveal how Gov. Jim Justice, Gov. Jared Polis, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other wealthy political figures slashed their taxes using strategies unavailable to most of their constituents.

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Is it the end of the American century?

Is it the end of the American century?

By Stephen Hoadley This ‘evidence’ of US unreliability, weakness and failure is partial, out of context, and lacking in historical perspective. Fifty years ago, as I began my teaching career at the University of Auckland, the United States began withdrawing its forces...

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What is the current status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? 🔊

What is the current status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? 🔊

One year ago this week, Azerbaijani forces attacked the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. This war redrew the maps of the area. It shifted the power and influence in this region away from Armenian’s who have declared the region independent, although, legally, it remains a part of Azerbaijan.

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What makes a terrorist? ▶

What makes a terrorist? ▶

From the power of love shown after the Christchurch terror attacks, to why you should use the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff to teach children about terrorism, Professor Peter O’Connor explains the intricacies of terrorism like you’ve never heard before.

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Why are Yemenis being starved?

Why are Yemenis being starved?

Throughout Yemen’s brutal war, parties to the conflict have deprived civilians of the food and water they need to survive, starving them to death. 

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Is California’s democracy broken? 🔊

Is California’s democracy broken? 🔊

California is about to vote on whether to recall their governor and replace him with one of forty-six candidates. This process has uncovered a serious challenge for the governability of the state, and California now faces a governability crisis.

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Why did QAnon become so widespread? 🔊

Why did QAnon become so widespread? 🔊

Conspiracy theories have marked American politics throughout the nation’s history. The most recent popular conspiracy centres around a shadowy figure who posts online under the pseudonym Q.

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How should we remember the Korean War?

How should we remember the Korean War?

Stephen Hoadley cautions New Zealanders to take into account the security risks – and the economic opportunities – presented by the fragile inter-Korean armistice, and to be aware of the shifting power balances of the East Asian region.

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What is the future of the filibuster in U.S. politics? 🔊

What is the future of the filibuster in U.S. politics? 🔊

The U.S. Senate is a unique legislative body in that it often requires a supermajority of sixty votes in favour of a legislation for a bill to pass. This is due to an historic institution called the filibuster. But the filibuster is not exactly like we think.

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What is critical race theory? 🔊

What is critical race theory? 🔊

In the last six months, several U.S. states have barred the teaching of critical race theory in schools. Critics suggest this campaign is to eliminate discussions of race in classrooms, while others suggest that critical race theory is poorly understood.

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What’s happening in Haiti?

What’s happening in Haiti?

The 7 July assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, has thrown the country into disarray. Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the future of Māori-Pakeha relations?

What is the future of Māori-Pakeha relations?

Instead of seeing Māori ways as an either/or with existing thinking about the world and its governance, Dame Anne Salmond argues it’s time to bring them together for new institutional forms of order for Aotearoa-New Zealand.

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Why is New Zealand’s literacy rate in decline?

Why is New Zealand’s literacy rate in decline?

From the rise of social media to dramatic change in the education system, many reasons are offered to explain New Zealand’s decline in international literacy assessments. Stuart McNaughton says a single cause is very unlikely.

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Is cyber security a people problem?

Is cyber security a people problem?

In an age where personal information is the new oil, chief privacy officers in companies should be as important as chief financial officers. Gehan Gunasekara explains the human dimension to cyber vulnerabilities – and how we can keep safe. 

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How bad was Māori segregation?

How bad was Māori segregation?

Robert Bartholomew says it’s time to educate about a dark chapter of Māori racial segregation. Because while history may not repeat, it speaks to the present.

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What is going on in Colombia? 🔊

What is going on in Colombia? 🔊

In April, Colombian demonstrators took to the streets to protest new policies proposed by the Government. The police responded with violence, with videos of the police response going viral. The response has subsequently led to larger protests against the Colombian Government.

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Free speech: Is it really under threat?

Free speech: Is it really under threat?

We can expect a lot of sound and fury as we start to debate the hate speech provisions that will be aired soon. But hopefully, we can also have an informed debate about the nature of hate, including what occurs online, and the impacts of this on communities, especially those which have been targeted by hate.

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What is the so-called deep state? 🔊

What is the so-called deep state? 🔊

While President, Donald Trump regularly complained that a deep state was undermining his policies and his decisions. He painted a picture of a conspiracy that unelected government officials were seeking to overthrow his Presidency.

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The first 100 days: How has Joe Biden done so far? 🔊

The first 100 days: How has Joe Biden done so far? 🔊

Presidents are often historically judged based on the accomplishments of their first 100 days in office. US President Joe Biden has just passed his 100-day mark. How does his record compare to historical records? How likely are President Biden’s proposals to be adopted?

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Are China-US Relations deteriorating?

Are China-US Relations deteriorating?

China and the US will not agree on many points of policy. But on one point they will tacitly agree: their ongoing strategic rivalry must be carefully managed to avoid war.   

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Can peace come to Yemen? 🔊

Can peace come to Yemen? 🔊

Since 2014, Yemen has been embroiled in an ongoing civil war. In the process, it has become the salient battleground for the ongoing rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster by the UN.

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How will climate change affect infrastructure? 🔊

How will climate change affect infrastructure? 🔊

Flooding, drought, and rising sea levels are just some of the major climate events that are already affecting millions. One of the major issues, as a result, is how infrastructure in both urban and rural communities will be affected by climate change.

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What does the TPNW mean for the future of nuclear armament? 🔊

What does the TPNW mean for the future of nuclear armament? 🔊

On February 22, 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force. However, the treaty’s purpose of a nuclear-weapons-free world has faced opposition from the states who have nuclear weapons stockpiles. What does this mean for the future of nuclear armament?

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What are the economics of happiness?

What are the economics of happiness?

New Zealand has its own world expert on the economics of happiness. Professor Robert MacCulloch says the pandemic is an opportunity to show how we could do a lot better.

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What is going on in Myanmar? 🔊

What is going on in Myanmar? 🔊

On February 1st, 2021, the Burmese military overthrew the democratically elected government in Myanmar. Long-time political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested along with the leadership of the ruling National League for Democracy.

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How significant was the Treaty of Waitangi Act?

How significant was the Treaty of Waitangi Act?

In a new edition of her popular book, The Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Illustrated History, distinguished historian Dame Claudia Orange brings the narrative of the Treaty up-to-date. In this extract, she explores the critical phase in the Treaty’s history that began with the passing of a significant piece of legislation.

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Climate change: Is New Zealand doing enough? 🔊

Climate change: Is New Zealand doing enough? 🔊

New Zealand has continued to garner criticism for inaction on climate change and was recently excluded from the Climate Ambition Summit. This raises the question of whether New Zealand’s climate policy reflects the urgency of the situation.

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How will Estonia reckon with the far-right?

How will Estonia reckon with the far-right?

As all eyes were glued to the storming of the American Capitol and the second impeachment of Donald Trump, the small Baltic nation of Estonia was experiencing its own reckoning with the far-right.

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Is Left populism possible?

Is Left populism possible?

“We need to fight precarity now and to ensure that, in the process, we retain and enhance the best of our representative institutions.”

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Can peace come to the Western Sahara? 🔊

Can peace come to the Western Sahara? 🔊

In November last year, a near three-decade-old ceasefire in the disputed region of Western Sahara was broken, and war resumed. This territory has been a tinderbox of conflict since Spain decolonised in 1975.

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What lies behind the war in Tigray?

What lies behind the war in Tigray?

“At the core of the current war between the Ethiopian central government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front is the realignment of politics and the contest for political hegemony.”

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The US Election 2020: A Crisis of legitimacy?

The US Election 2020: A Crisis of legitimacy?

Was the 2020 US election conducted properly? Will mail-in ballots be counted, and will that count be allowed to stand? Will, the US Supreme Court, decide the final outcome? And what, in any case, will become of American democracy?

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Has peace come to Nagorno-Karabakh? 🔊

Has peace come to Nagorno-Karabakh? 🔊

On September 27, 2020, fighting along the so-called line of control between Azerbaijan and the region of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out. Azerbaijani forces advanced throughout the month, and Armenian resistance struggled to hold territory. On November 10, the two sides agreed to a peace agreement that has been brokered by Russia.

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Can Trump be prosecuted?

Can Trump be prosecuted?

“President-elect Biden has rightly made bringing Americans together his highest priority. His greatest challenge will be whether he can lead the nation into a reckoning with the Trump years without further inflaming passions.”

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How did the US election look from outside America? 🔊

How did the US election look from outside America? 🔊

The US, when it holds an election ends up attracting more interest around the world than most, if not any other country. It might be because of American power; it might be because of the US’s democratic principles, or it might be because of media sources and the ability to follow it.

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What is the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh war about? 🔊

What is the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh war about? 🔊

On September 27, fighting along the so-called line of control between Azerbaijan and the region of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted. This area of Azerbaijan is majority Armenian and has been de facto-controlled by the local Armenian population since the end of the war between the two populations in 1994. 

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Big Q Podcast: The 2020 New Zealand General Election 🔊

Big Q Podcast: The 2020 New Zealand General Election 🔊

In this special Big Q podcast, Sam Smith is joined by Lara Greaves, Mark Boyd, and Victoria Woodman to look at the 2020 New Zealand general election. They discuss how the two main parties are tracking, the state of the minor parties, and assess the overall election campaign so far.

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Does the Black Lives Matter movement reflect experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand?

Does the Black Lives Matter movement reflect experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand?

In the 1970s African American activism was echoed in New Zealand influencing the creation and activism of both Ngā Tamatoa and the Polynesian Panthers. 50 years later these trends continue with protests across New Zealand sparked by the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and Black Lives Matter has become an issue of national political contention.

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Can you trust political polls?

Can you trust political polls?

From now until October 17, Election Day in New Zealand, voters will be getting election poll information from multiple directions. So which ones can be trusted?

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What is behind the political unrest in Belarus? 🔊

What is behind the political unrest in Belarus? 🔊

On August 9, 2020, Belarussian voters went to the polls in a presidential election. Long-time president Alexander Lukashenko who has governed the nation since 1994 and who is often called Europe’s last dictator claimed victory.

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A country in crisis: Where is Lebanon heading? 🔊

A country in crisis: Where is Lebanon heading? 🔊

Last week, on August 4th, an explosion devastated Beirut killing over one hundred people and injuring thousands. This incident shocked the nation amidst a horrible economic crisis and a tremendous lack of faith in the competence of the government.

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A city under siege: What are the legal and political implications of the presence of federal agents in Portland? 🔊

A city under siege: What are the legal and political implications of the presence of federal agents in Portland? 🔊

Ever since the killing of George Floyd, the city of Portland has witnessed consistent protests and civic action demanding police reforms. However, recently, camouflaged federal authorities without identification badges have begun arresting protesters in the city, while the Department of Homeland Security has deployed unmarked SUV’s to detain protesters.

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What dangers do low-yield nuclear weapons pose to the world?

What dangers do low-yield nuclear weapons pose to the world?

“With international treaties focused on regulating higher-yield nuclear weapons, the relatively lighter “tactical” armaments have quietly proliferated in their place, despite being far more destructive than either of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

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Is the United States haunted by its racist past? 🔊

Is the United States haunted by its racist past? 🔊

In recent weeks, the news in the United States has been filled with stories of statues and public spaces being altered or removed. These stories are usually connected with America’s racist past, with a particular eye towards the issue of slavery.

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Can free speech cost lives?

Can free speech cost lives?

Despite all the debates and discussions, the pandemic continues to ravage humanity and the fake news phenomenon continues to deceive some people.

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Nobody expects the Spanish … Coronavirus?

Nobody expects the Spanish … Coronavirus?

“Spain was amongst the nations hardest hit by the pandemic and, despite the uneasiness surrounding Sánchez’s late response to the crisis, even by his hardline supporters, Spain is on its way to recovery.”

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Will COVID-19 transform world politics?

Will COVID-19 transform world politics?

Will the current COVID-19 outbreak stimulate further international cooperation as did the infections of the 20th Century, or will it undermine cooperation, weaken regimes and alter geopolitics as did the epidemics of the prior two millennia?

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A death in the family

A death in the family

“I saw my father alive, dead, and buried, the threefold process that’s at once so ordinary and so extraordinary, and tragically has become more ordinary in the UK in these extraordinary times.”

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Is Islamic State back?

Is Islamic State back?

In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic the crises of tomorrow can fester. A resurgence of Islamic State (IS) is likely to be one of them.

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What is decolonisation?

What is decolonisation?

Many writers only loosely define what they mean by it, while others use it as a general black box for addressing the negative impacts of colonisation upon Indigenous peoples.  

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Why are pets at risk during this pandemic?

Why are pets at risk during this pandemic?

In a few short months the COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated a series of dramatic social, political and environmental changes. Yet the focus remains resolutely on humans, leaving animals largely out of the picture.

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How have faith communities responded to Covid-19?

How have faith communities responded to Covid-19?

In response to the global spread of Covid-19, many faith communities including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and gurdwaras have suspended their meetings and services in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

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First in Family: Our University Voyages

First in Family: Our University Voyages

Awarding-winning filmmaker Professor Annie Goldson didn’t have to travel too far from her University of Auckland desk for her latest documentary production, with Dr ‘Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki.

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What is behind the recent oil price crash?

What is behind the recent oil price crash?

Having agreed to restrict production in recent years, it appears that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation have been racing to outdo the other in crashing the price of oil.

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Does far-right extremism still threaten New Zealand?

Does far-right extremism still threaten New Zealand?

“In the hours after the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15 last year, I wrote that I hoped New Zealand would finally stop believing it was immune to far-right extremist violence. A year on, I’m not sure enough has changed.”

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Fossil fuel-free superannuation: What is the deal? 🔊

Fossil fuel-free superannuation: What is the deal? 🔊

Last week an announcement was made by the government surrounding changes to default KiwiSaver funds. In a bid to align with the zero-carbon bill, in 2021, when the terms of default KiwiSaver end, they will no longer be able to invest in fossil fuels or illegal weaponry.

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Why are New Zealand houses so damp and mouldy? 🔊

Why are New Zealand houses so damp and mouldy? 🔊

Is the housing stock to blame? Is it the way houses are constructed? Is it the typology? Lillian Hanley spoke with Philippa Howden-Chapman about the state of New Zealand’s houses, and what effect damp and mouldy homes have on people’s health and living standards.

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How legitimate is proxy warfare? 🔊

How legitimate is proxy warfare? 🔊

Global conflicts have become increasingly more complex, and often, external nations choose to intervene. However, interventions can often be indirect in the form of proxy actors.

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What is the future of food?

What is the future of food?

Gilbert Wong looks at the forces shaping the future of food and how research is contributing to what’s likely to be on our plates in 2030.

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Should prisoners be allowed to vote? 🔊

Should prisoners be allowed to vote? 🔊

A few days ago, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced plans to change the current law on prisoner voting rights in time for the 2020 election to allow prisoners serving sentences of three years or under to vote. 

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What institutional reform befits the era of the long climate crisis?

What institutional reform befits the era of the long climate crisis?

On October 22, former MP and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, who now leads Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand, delivered the 2019 Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture at the University of Auckland, looking at institutional reform options for dealing with climate change, in light of Parliament’s recent passage of the Zero Carbon Bill.

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Q+A: Could working with gangs help reduce crime?

Q+A: Could working with gangs help reduce crime?

New Zealand National Party leader Simon Bridges wants to stop gang members from gaining access to welfare if they cannot prove their income is from legitimate sources. This comes at a time when some gangs are wanting changes in their community.

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Are armed police patrols the solution to gun violence? 🔊

Are armed police patrols the solution to gun violence? 🔊

The debate around the trial of armed police patrols in New Zealand continues since it was announced three weeks ago. The patrols will be rolled out in Manukau, Waikato, and Canterbury and involve heavily armed, specially trained units roaming the streets in vehicles.

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Q+A: What does a Trumpian foreign policy look like?

Q+A: What does a Trumpian foreign policy look like?

On September 10, 2019, Donald Trump fired his national security advisor John Bolton, significantly changing the dynamic within the Trump Administration’s foreign policy team. So, what does the future of American foreign policy look like under the current president?

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Why do we need journalism?

Why do we need journalism?

Journalism is facing a profound financial crisis. Around the world, news outlets are closing, and journalists are losing their jobs. Should we be worried?

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Why isn’t my professor Pasifika or Māori?

Why isn’t my professor Pasifika or Māori?

The number of Māori and Pasifika students attending New Zealand universities has been increasing steadily, but for many of these students, they will not be taught by Māori or Pasifika throughout their degree.

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Q+A: How do we measure far-right violence?

Q+A: How do we measure far-right violence?

On the heels of mass shootings in New Zealand and the United States, we ask: what are the mindsets, trends, and changes of a globally connected right-wing movement? What are the solutions to the growing animosity between identity groups?

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Q+A: Boom or bust: What is the state of housing in New Zealand?

Q+A: Boom or bust: What is the state of housing in New Zealand?

New Zealand is enduring a housing crisis. The chance of buying a home is out of reach for many, while at the same time, rents remain high. Gautami Sithambaram spoke with Campbell Jones about the state of housing in New Zealand and what initiatives young people can take to get into the property market.

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Q+A: Will voting changes help bring more Kiwis to the ballot box?

Q+A: Will voting changes help bring more Kiwis to the ballot box?

Last month, the government announced proposals for how New Zealanders will go to the polls in 2020. The new legislation will allow voters to enrol on election day, make it easier for New Zealanders to vote from overseas, and could see ballots in public places like supermarkets and malls.

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Q+A: Banning the bomb: Are the days of nuclear weapons numbered?

Q+A: Banning the bomb: Are the days of nuclear weapons numbered?

In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly passed a mandate to negotiate a treaty that would ban nuclear weapons. While the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed 122 votes to 1, no nuclear state or NATO member other than the Netherlands voted on the resolution.

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Q+A: Is the age of privacy over?

Q+A: Is the age of privacy over?

Is the age of privacy over? What is at stake when we lose our privacy? How does a lack of privacy affect security, democracy, and society? Maria Armoudian speaks with Helen Nissenbaum, Michael Patrick Lynch, Bruce Schneier, and Joshua Fairfield. 

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Q+A: Getting the message across: What is public diplomacy?

Q+A: Getting the message across: What is public diplomacy?

What is public diplomacy, and how effective can it be? While it has a long history, the study of public diplomacy is only becoming more salient in an age of globalisation and increasing digital communication posing both new challenges and opportunities for governments.

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Q+A: Is it time to stop using cars?

Q+A: Is it time to stop using cars?

A recent report from a team of researchers based at the University of Otago has found that our use of cars is harming both our health and our environment. Is it time to give up our cars?

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Q+A: What is going wrong inside New Zealand’s prisons?

Q+A: What is going wrong inside New Zealand’s prisons?

A recent report investigating the state of three New Zealand prisons found that low staffing numbers were straining conditions. Lachlan Balfour spoke with Liam Martin, Lecturer in Criminology at Victoria University, about the report and the state of prisons in New Zealand.

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Q+A: Why is the United States so polarised?

Q+A: Why is the United States so polarised?

What are the fault lines that have fractured politics in America? Julian Zelizer has analysed the historical roots of the present-day political turmoil, divisions, and partisanship in the US for his new book Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974. 

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What is the ‘Alt-Right’?

What is the ‘Alt-Right’?

After the horrendous attacks in Christchurch, many people understandably have questions about the motives and ideology of the alleged attacker. Damon Berry analyses the role the alt-right might have played in the attacks.

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Terror in Christchurch: Analysing what happened 🔊

Terror in Christchurch: Analysing what happened 🔊

On Friday, March 15, a fascist-white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing fifty people. This was the deadliest terror attack in New Zealand since the 19th century and one of the worst mass shootings in modern times. But why did it happen? And what does this mean for New Zealand moving forward?

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How will climate change impact Aotearoa? ▶

How will climate change impact Aotearoa? ▶

How will climate change affect our natural world, our society, and our culture? What can we do to halt the looming catastrophe? A panel of experts discusses how climate change will impact New Zealand.

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Who are the Gilets jaunes?

Who are the Gilets jaunes?

For the past four weeks, the Gilets jaunes protests have dominated the French socio-political landscape and monopolised the media. But who are they exactly?

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Open Letter: Why must New Zealand act now to halt climate change?

Open Letter: Why must New Zealand act now to halt climate change?

Earlier this week, one hundred and fifty academics and experts across various disciplines signed an open letter to the New Zealand government calling for greater and more immediate action on climate change. If we do not act, we face impending catastrophic environmental breakdown.

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Hell on Earth: What is going on in Yemen? 🔊

Hell on Earth: What is going on in Yemen? 🔊

Experts say Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. Warnings from the UN say the death toll from starvation could reach 18.4 million by the end of the year. Why is this happening, and what can be done?

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Q+A: What are the perils of being a war correspondent?

Q+A: What are the perils of being a war correspondent?

The world is as dangerous as it has ever been for journalists and war correspondents. Kidnapping, murder, and torture are the risks facing those trying to get us the information from the front line. How hard is it being a war correspondent?

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What is free speech? ▶

What is free speech? ▶

Banned books, defamation suits, de-platformed public figures, alt-righters without a venue: is there a crisis of free speech in New Zealand? And what exactly is free speech: a necessary guarantee of democracy or a misused threat to the common good?

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What is at stake in the US midterm elections? 🔊

What is at stake in the US midterm elections? 🔊

This week, Americans will go to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. But what is at stake? What are the factors that will determine the election’s outcome? And what do these midterms mean for the future of the US?

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Debate: Should New Zealand be smokefree?

Debate: Should New Zealand be smokefree?

In March 2011, the Government set a goal that by 2025 less than 5 percent of New Zealanders will be smokers. Chris Bullen, Dr Ilaisaane Fifita, and Martin Wilkinson debate the issue of a smokefree New Zealand. 

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What types of criminal proceedings are possible for a US President? 🔊

What types of criminal proceedings are possible for a US President? 🔊

What types of criminal proceedings are possible for a US president? What types of secrets can they keep? Who can they fire, and who can they pardon? Maria Armoudian spoke with Heidi Kitrosser and Eric M. Freedman about the historical context around the current legal situation facing Donald Trump’s presidency. 

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Q+A: Does democracy have a dark side?

Q+A: Does democracy have a dark side?

Democracy, the idea of governing of, for and by the people, is a long-exhausted principle, particularly in places like the United States and New Zealand. However, Michael Mann suggests that democracy may also have a dark side.

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Is there such a thing as a just war? 🔊

Is there such a thing as a just war? 🔊

When former US President Barack Obama articulated his plan to destroy Islamic State, he was invoking what is known in political philosophy circles as just war theory. However, at the same time, he alluded to the idea that a new conception of just war theory was needed. But what exactly is just war theory?

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