Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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Eight facts about the gun debate in the United States

By Philip J. Cook and Kristin A. Goss
The debate over gun control generates more heat than light. But no matter how vigorously the claims and counterclaims are asserted, the basic facts are not just a matter of personal opinion. Here are our conclusions about some of the factual issues that are at the heart of the gun debate.

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Can we end poverty?

Define poverty as living with two dollars a day or less. Now imagine that governments could put those two dollars and one cent in every poor person’s pocket with little effort and minimal waste. Poverty is finished. Of course, things are more complicated than that. But you get a sense of where modern social policy is going—and what will soon be possible.

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The Ebola virus and the spread of pandemics

By Peter C. Doherty
A recent New York Times editorial by author David Quammen highlighted the seriousness of the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea, but made the point that there is no great risk of any global pandemic. That’s been generally true of the viruses that, like Ebola, cause exudative diathesis, or bleeding into the tissues, and present with horrific symptoms.

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What does the economic future hold for Spain?

By William Chislett
The good news is that Spain has finally come out of a five-year recession that was triggered by the bursting of its property bubble. The bad news is that the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at a whopping 26%, double the European Union average.

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How secure are you?

The internet has come a long way since the first “electronic mail” was sent back in 1971… but with its rapid advancement come challenges to cybersecurity and the increasing threat of cyberterrorism, both on an individual level as well as on a larger global scale. In their new book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, experts P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman warn us that we may not be as secure online as we think we are.

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Protecting yourself from the threat of cyberwarfare

With over 30,000 media reports and academic studies on the dangers of cyberterrorism, surely the threat today could not be greater? But as P.W. Singer, author of the bestselling Wired for War and co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, points out — not a single person has died in a cyberterror attack.

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Cybersecurity and cyberwar playlist

After writing Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, P.W. Singer compiled a list filled with songs to help readers get into the vibe of the book, which explores the emerging security challenges that continue to arise in the new digital age.

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The speciousness of “fetal pain”

What is “fetal personhood”? What role does poverty and welfare policy play in shaping reproductive rights? Questions about reproductive rights are just as complex–and controversial–as they were in the Roe v. Wade-era. The following is adapted from Rickie Solinger’s Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know

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Who is Pope Francis?

By Alyssa Bender
Pope Francis hasn’t been the Pope for even a year, and he has been selected as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. How well do you know this news-making Pope? Take our quiz to test your knowledge.

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How exactly is the Federal Reserve governed?

No one doubts the politics of selecting a Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has withdrawn from consideration and Janet Yellen, current Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, is now the frontrunner. What does the new chair have to expect?

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What does health reform do for Americans?

By Theda Skocpol and Lawrence R. Jacobs
The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2010 sets in motion reforms in U.S. health insurance coming into full effect in 2014. Most Americans are confused about what the law promises — and no wonder.

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Spain’s unemployment conundrum

By William Chislett
There is only a glimmer of light in Spain’s long unemployment tunnel after five years of recession. This is because a new economic model has yet to emerge to replace the one excessively based on the property sector, which collapsed with devastating consequences.

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