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Academic Insights for the Thinking World


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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9780199315628 Debating Brain Drain

Debating the brain drain: an excerpt on emigration

While there has been considerable normative theo­rizing on the topic of immigration, most analyses have focused on the relation between the migrant or prospective migrant and the society she will join—issues of admission, accommodation, integration, and so forth.

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The fate of foreign refugees, past and present

In 1812 Benjamin West completed his portrait of John Eardley Wilmot. The portrait was two paintings in one: it depicted its subject, Wilmot, lawyer and former Chief Justice of Common Pleas, at the foreground; in the background was a painting within a painting, a scene of American loyalists, including Native Americans, African slaves, women, and children.

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Migration cover blog

Getting rid of Schrödinger’s immigrant

One of the best jokes circulating on social media today is a bogus announcement that Donald Trump is warning Americans about ‘Schrödinger’s immigrant’: a foreigner who lazes around on benefits while simultaneously stealing your job. A UK version of the gag circulated during the recent general election, also playing on the famous quantum physics paradox, in which a single particle that exists simultaneously in two opposite states theoretically causes a cat in a sealed box to be both dead and alive at the same time.

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Reaganism and the rise of the carceral state

Today’s carceral state has its roots in the “war on crime” that took hold in America in the 1980s. That “war” was led by the political forces that I associate with Reaganism, a conservative political formation that generally favored a rollback of state power. A notable exception to this rule was policing and imprisonment. Both Reaganism and the “war on crime” had a racial politics embedded in them, so that these three phenomena—Reaganism as a movement, the “war on crime,” and the resulting carceral state, and the racial politics of the 1980s—strengthened and reinforced the others.

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Media and Politics in New Democracies-Zielonka

Fragile democracy, volatile politics and the quest for a free media

A free media system independent of political interference is vital for democracy, and yet politicians in different parts of the world try to control information flows. Silvio Berlusconi has been a symbol of these practices for many years, but recently the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has been in the spotlight. The latter case shows that young and emerging democracies are particularly vulnerable to media capture by political and corporate interests because of their fragile institutions, polarised civil society and transnational economic pressures.

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9780190263553 - Atlas of the World 22nd edition (22e)

Welcome to Sital Niwas, Madame President

Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.

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What are human rights?

On this anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is worth reflecting on the nature of human rights and what functions they perform in moral, political and legal discourse and practice. For moral theorists, the dominant approach to the normative foundations of international human rights conceives of human rights as moral entitlements that all human beings possess by virtue of our common humanity.

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social forces 15347605

The politics of science funding

Government funding of science has become an increasingly prominent issue in the United States. Examining the current debate and its consequences, Social Problems editor Arne L. Kalleberg interviews Gordon Gauchat about his recent article “The Political Context of Science in the United States: Public Acceptance of Evidence-Based Policy and Science Funding.”

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Hecksher-Trust on a complex world

Hope from Paris: rebuilding trust

It has begun again: the age-old cycle of hate and counter-hate, self-justification and counter-justification, the grim celebrations of righteousness and revenge. In the US, conservative politicians play on it as demagogues always have, projecting strength and patriotism by refusing to take refugees from the lands terrorized by ISIS; my own governor, Chris Christie, tries to outdo his competition by arguing that even five-year-old orphans from Syria should be stopped and sent back, as if they are tainted by being from the same part of the world as the murderers.

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The Little Sisters, the Supreme Court and the HSA/HRA alternative

The Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women, are unlikely litigants in the US Supreme Court. Consistent with their strong adherence to traditional Catholic doctrines, the Little Sisters oppose birth control. They are now in the Supreme Court because of that opposition.

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Fire and ashes: success and failure in politics

Politics is a worldly art. It is a profession that is founded on the ability to instil hope, convince doubters and unite the disunited – to find simple and pain free solutions to what are in fact complex and painful social challenges.

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Five differences between Canada and the United States

One of the tasks of a Canadian ambassador to the United States is persuading his audiences that Canadians really are distinct from Americans. One ambassador commented that if he asked an audience The Question – was there a difference – Americans would politely say no, not really, and Canadians would say the opposite. What is the correct answer to The Question – or is there a correct answer?

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Entering an uncharted realm of climate change

This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 21st annual session of the Conference of the Parties since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.

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The need for immediate presidential action to close Guantanamo

Despite promising at the start of his presidency to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Obama has yet to exercise the clear independent authority to do so. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, 2009 White House counsel Gregory B. Craig and Cliff Sloan, special envoy for Guantanamo closure 2013 and 2014, urged President Obama to abandon trying to get Congressional approval.

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