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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

O'Sullivan et al - Getting Welfare to Work

Getting (active) welfare to work in Australia and around the world

In the 1990s Australia began reforming its employment assistance system. Referred to as welfare-to-work, at the close of last century Australia had a publically owned, publically delivered system. By 2003, that system had been fully privatised and all jobseekers received their assistance via a private agency, working under government contract. To this day, Australia is the only country with a fully privatise quasi-market in employment services.

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Cultural foreign policy from the Cold War to today

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards, the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy The Interview wasn’t on the list. That Oscar spurned this “bromance” surprised nobody. Most critics hated the film and even Rogen’s fans found it one of his lesser works. Those audiences almost didn’t have a chance to see the film.

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Conflict in the Sangin district of Afghanistan

The news seems to have gone quiet about Sangin district in Helmand. Before Christmas there was an intense media storm that the district was about to fall to the ‘Taliban’. There were reports of the SAS being deployed, and the day after, the story of multiple Taliban commanders being killed in a night raid. As I have written before, it is impossible to separate every one with guns in Helmand into two groups: the ‘government’ and the ‘Taliban’, so it is difficult to see who the SAS were targeting, and who they were supporting.

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Generations of asylum seekers

With this family history behind me, questions of immigration are never far from my mind. I owe my existence to the generosity of the UK in taking in generations of refugees, as well as the kindness shown by one wealthy unmarried Christian woman – who agreed to foster my father for a few months until his parents arrived, but as that never happened, becoming his guardian until adulthood.

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Gender politics of the generic “he”

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what pronouns to use for persons whose gender is unknown, complicated, or irrelevant. Options include singular they and invented, common-gender pronouns. Each has its defenders and its critics.

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The Department of Labor awakens

At President Obama’s urging, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a new regulation condoning state-sponsored private sector retirement programs. The proposed DOL regulation extends to such state-run programs principles already applicable to private employers’ payroll deduction IRA arrangements. If properly structured, payroll deduction IRA arrangements avoid coverage under the Employee Retirement Income Security […]

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The art of conversation

On 28 November 2015, I had a reading and panel discussion at Médiathèque André Malraux, a library and media centre in Strasbourg, the main city of the Alsace region of France, adjoining Germany, traditionally one of the Christmas capitals of the continent, and currently the site of the European Parliament.

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The problems with democracy – continuing the conversation into a new year

An invitation from the British Library to give the first in a new public lecture series called ‘Enduring Ideas’ was never a request I was going to decline. But what ‘enduring idea’ might I focus on and what exactly would I want to say that had not already been said about an important idea that warranted such reflection? The selected concept was ‘democracy’ and the argument sought to set out and unravel a set of problems that could – either collectively or individually – be taken to explain the apparent rise in democratic disaffection.

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Beyond the rhetoric: Bombing Daesh (ISIS)

Last week, I wrote about the presidential campaign rhetoric pledging to “carpet bomb” Daesh (ISIS), focusing on what it really means and why it is now generally irrelevant to the problems at hand. Today, I want to return to the present problems in more detail: What can be bombed? To what lasting end? And how has Daesh responded to our bombing thus far?

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Why have we normalized Islamophobia?

The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have captured headlines and triggered responses from journalists, politicians, and religious leaders. Some Western heads of government have once again threatened a global war against terrorism, while some political commentators have even invoked World War III.

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Climate change poses risks to your health

When heads of state and other leaders of 195 nations reached a landmark accord at the recent United Nations COP21 conference on climate change in Paris, they focused primarily on sea level rise, droughts, loss of biodiversity, and ways to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce these consequences. But arguably the most serious and widespread impacts of climate change are those that are hazardous to the health of people.

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Can history help us manage humanitarian crises?

People frequently ask whether the study of history can help in managing humanitarian crises. This question is particularly timely given the massive outflow of refugees from Syria and the problems of admitting large numbers of refugees to other countries, including the United States.

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SIPRI Yearbook 2015

Not quite there: 15 years of women, peace, and security

The 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 has prompted considerable analysis on the achievements of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. To date, 52 countries have adopted a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of Resolution 1325 and, within the United Nations, the number of women in senior leadership positions has increased.

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Old Nick on the ‘net: on Satanic politics

On 19 October 2015, the tech culture website Geek published another installment of procrastination-inducing click-bait lists, namely a rundown of “The 11 best Satanists.” Here, writer Aubrey Sitterson introduced 11 people associated with Satanism, from Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey to music icons Marilyn Manson and King Diamond.

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