Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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 Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has withdrawn from consideration and Janet Yellen, current Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, is now the frontrunner.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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Vaccination: what are the risks?

By Peter C. Doherty
All prediction is probabilistic. Maybe that statement is unfamiliar. It’s central to the thinking of every scientist, though this is not to the way media commentators like Jenny McCarthy approach the world. Scientists make certain predictions, or recommend courses of action on the basis of the best available evidence, but we realize that there is always an element of risk.

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Five things you should know about the Fed

This year marks the 100th anniversary of The Federal Reserve, which was created after President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913. In this adapted excerpt from The Federal Reserve: What Everyone Needs to Know, Stephen H. Axilrod answers questions about The Federal Reserve’s historical origins, evolving responsibilities, and major challenges in a period of economic crisis.

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The IRS scandal and tax compliance

By Leonard E. Burman and Joel Slemrod
The IRS is under withering scrutiny for allegedly using partisan political criteria to evaluate applications for nonprofit 501(c)(4) status. All sides agree that, if true, this would constitute an unacceptable abuse of power and that it raises serious questions about the adequacy of IRS governance.

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The illusion of “choice”

By Rickie Solinger
Recently Planned Parenthood announced that it will no longer use the term “choice” to describe what the organization aims to preserve. It’s about time. The weak, consumerist claim of individual choice has never been sufficient to guarantee women what they need — the right to reproduce or not — and to be mothers with dignity and safety.

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Prepping for tax season

The W2s are in the mail and tax providers’ commercials on TV. Yes, it’s tax season and time for a reminder about what and why taxes are. Here’s a brief excerpt from Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know by Leonard E. Burman and Joel Slemrod.

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Ordering off the menu in China debates

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the country was mix and match meal creation. On airplanes and school cafeterias, you just have “chicken or beef” choices, but Chinese restaurants were “1 from Column A, 1 from Column B” domains. If only in recent China debates, a similar readiness to think beyond either/or options prevailed!

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Semi-legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington: what comes next?

By Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela Hawken, and Mark A.R. Kleiman
As officials in Washington State and Colorado try to decide how to implement the marijuana-legalization laws passed by their voters last month, officials in Washington, DC, are trying to figure out how to respond. Below, a quick guide to what’s at stake.

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Tax reform and the fiscal cliff

Taxes have always been an incendiary topic in the United States. A tax revolt launched the nation and the modern day Tea Party invokes the mantle of the early revolutionaries to support their call for low taxes and limited government. And yet, despite the passion and the fury, most Americans are remarkably clueless about how our tax system works. Surveys indicate that they have no idea about how they are taxed, much less about the overall contours of federal and state tax systems.

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Paul Ryan, Randian? No, just another neocon

By Jason Brennan
Paul Ryan — possible future Vice President of the United States — calls Ayn Rand one of his principal inspirations. He once claimed (and later denied) that Atlas Shrugged was required reading for his staff. He even gives copies of Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, which is a touch ironic, since Rand was an ardent atheist.

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