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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780190217266 - Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK)

Five things to know about Al Qaeda and Bin Laden

Despite Bin Laden’s death in 2011, the extremist group Al Qaeda has since survived and, some argue, continued to thrive. The effort and resources Bin Laden invested into Al Qaeda fortified its foundation, making it difficult, if not impossible, to disband or weaken the group after his death. But how did the terrorist group come to be what it is today?

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9780199311255 - Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know

The cases for and against hydrofracking

The EPA recently released a report stating that while hydrofracking has not led to significant impacts on drinking water, contamination may occur with “potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water”. In this extract from Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know, Alex Prud’homme breaks down the cases for and against hydrofracking.

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9780199354290 - The U.S. Special Forces: What Everyone Needs to Know

What is the history of the Green Berets?

With Memorial Day fast approaching, it is worth examining the history of our armed services, including the modernization of the military during the Cold War. This excerpt from The U.S. Special Forces: What Everyone Needs to Know® by John Prados, explains how the Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, evolved during President John F. Kennedy’s term.

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9780199783281 - Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK)

How has Venezuela’s foreign policy changed in the 21st century?

With the recent uproar surrounding President Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat, it is worth reading up on how this Latin American country has changed since the end of the 20th century. This excerpt from Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know by Miguel Tinker Salas examines the impact of the election of Hugo Chávez on Venezuelan politics.

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Ruse_Atheism

Easter for a non-believer

I have ambivalent feelings about Easter. I am sure I am not alone in this attitude towards the greatest of events on the Christian calendar, especially among people who grew up, as I did, in intensely religious (and loving) families but who have long put their Christian beliefs behind them. As it happens, my family were Quakers and that religion does not mark out the church festivals. But I went to a school that had a great musical tradition and each year there was a performance of one of the Bach Passions, alternating the St Matthew with the St John.

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9780199948796 - Modern Greece: What Everyone Needs to Know

Understanding modern Greece: a Q&A

In arguing that Greece—or modern Greece—is, in fact, a “trailblazer” of sorts, Stathis N. Kalyvas, author of Modern Greece: What Everyone Needs to Know, gives us some very compelling answers for us to consider.

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9780190222758

Don’t blame Sykes-Picot

What do Glenn Beck, Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic State, and Noam Chomsky have in common? They all place much of the blame for the current crisis in the Middle East on the so-called “Sykes-Picot Agreement,” a plan for the postwar partition of Ottoman territories drawn up during World War I.

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9780199334582

Atheism: Above all a moral issue

The New Atheists – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens – are not particularly comfortable people. The fallacies in their arguments beg to be used in classes on informal reasoning. The narrowness of their perspectives are remarkable even by the standards of modern academia. The prejudices against those of other cultures would be breathtaking even in the era when Britannia ruled the waves. But there is a moral fervor unknown outside the pages of the Old Testament. And for this, we can forgive much.

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9780199368426

The food we eat: A Q&A on agricultural and food controversies

The world is more interested in issues surrounding agriculture and food than ever before. Questions swirl around the safety of our food, how it’s made, and what we can do to ensure we eat the best food. We asked F. Bailey Norwood, one of the authors of Agricultural and Food Controversies: What Everyone Needs to Know, to answer some of today’s most pressing queries.

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9780199996681

Seven things you should know about marine pollution

Marine pollution has long been a topic of concern, but what do you really know about the pollutants affecting the world’s waters? We asked Judith Weis, author of Marine Pollution: What Everyone Needs to Know to delve into the various forms of pollutants, and the many ways they can harm our environment and bodies.

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9780199374083

Is American higher education in crisis?

American higher education is at a crossroads. The cost of a college education has made people question the benefits of receiving one. To better understand the issues surrounding the supposed crisis, we asked Goldie Blumenstyk, author of American Higher Education: What Everyone Needs to Know to comment on some of the most hot button topics today.

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9780199374090

True or False: facts and myths on American higher education

American higher education is at a crossroads. The cost of a college education has made people question the benefits of receiving one. We asked Goldie Blumenstyk, author of American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know to help us separate fact from fiction.

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Limiting the possibility of a dangerous pandemic

While pandemics are by their nature unpredictable, there are some things worth considering when it comes to the issue of personal safety and responsibility. The first point is to be a safe international traveler so that you don’t bring some nasty infection home with you. Protect yourself and you protect others. Though taking the available vaccines won’t prevent infection with some novel pathogen, it will contribute toward ensuring that you enjoy a successful vacation or business trip, and it should also put you in a “think bugs” mind-set.

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What is the Islamic state and its prospects?

By James Gelvin
ISIS—now just the “Islamic State” (IS)–is the latest incarnation of the jihadi movement in Iraq. The first incarnation of that movement, Tawhid wal-Jihad, was founded in 2003-4 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi was not an Iraqi: as his name denotes, he came from Zarqa in Jordan. He was responsible for establishing a group affiliated with al-Qaeda in response to the American invasion of Iraq.

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Felipe VI, Spain’s new king: viva el rey

By William Chislett
Spain has a new king, following the abdication of King Juan Carlos earlier this month in favour of his son, Felipe VI. The move comes at a time when Spain is emerging from a long period of recession with an unemployment rate of 26%, a tarnished monarchy, a widely discredited political class, and a pro-independence movement in the region of Catalonia.

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