Editor's note

If everything goes according to plan, the Democratic Republic of Congo will hold its much-anticipated presidential elections on December 23. These elections are significant because they will bring to an end Joseph Kabila’s iron grip on the presidency. Reuben Loffman writes that while this is a good thing, a new president might not deliver on the change that the Congolese people have been hoping for.

We know that humankind originated in Africa, and that the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg in South Africa is a hub for understanding more about our origins. But we didn’t know how old the caves in the Cradle are, and couldn’t provide conclusive dates for the many fossils found in them. Now that’s changed. Robyn Pickering explains how she and others calculated the caves’ ages.

Julie Masiga

Peace + Security Editor

Top Stories

Voters during the DRC’s last elections in Kinshasa. Dai Kurokawa/EPA

Poll in the DRC looms. But the election is unlikely to bring change

Reuben Loffman, Queen Mary University of London

It's been an eventful year for the Democratic Republic of Congo as the country prepares for elections.

Beautifully preserved flowstone and sediment layers from the Cradle of Humankind. Dr Robyn Pickering

How we calculated the age of caves in the Cradle of Humankind – and why it matters

Robyn Pickering, University of Cape Town

South Africa's fossils can step out of the shadows of being undated and undateable.

Politics + Society

Israel-Gaza brinkmanship slips over the brink

Michael J. Armstrong, Brock University

Last week’s Gazan rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes were logical consequences of both sides’ brinkmanship negotiating strategies.

With China-US tensions on the rise, does Australia need a new defence strategy?

Greg Raymond, Australian National University

Australia committed A$195 billion to defence spending in 2016, but many now believe this is insufficient with China's rising influence in the region.

Arts + Culture

Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

Michael Foley, Baylor University

For those wondering whether it is sinful to drink, even moderately, a scholar goes into the history of alcohol and its distillation to show how early monks and priests contributed to it.

Snowflakes and trigger warnings: Shakespearean violence has always upset people

Rebecca Yearling, Keele University

Even Samuel Johnson found some of Shakespeare's violent scenes unwatchable.

Environment + Energy