After three years of ISIS occupation, the Iraqi army reconquered most of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in July. As the self-declared caliphate—the world’s richest terrorist organization—has been losing considerable territory over the last two years, and with the international borders of most states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) still intact, is the survival of the state system in the region still an issue of concern?
President Donald Trump’s description of Confederate statues as “beautiful” merely mirrors his previously-mentioned objects of aesthetic preference. Before the statues, there was the “beautiful wall,” an oddly-conceived barrier prospectively bedecked with a “beautiful door.” But it’s not just about walls and buildings. Mr. Trump’s most frequent references to beauty have had to do with women.
The ice caps are melting. Within a few years the North Pole will likely be ice-free for the first time in 10,000 years, causing what some call the “Arctic death spiral.” In the following excerpt from A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams explains what we can do today to fight climate change. What can we do, both individually and collectively, to try to save the world? There is a massive list, of course, but I will pick out a few actions that might make a real difference.
Whether or not true democracy can ever be achieved remains uncertain. Historian James T. Kloppenberg argues that while democracy can be defined as an ethical ideal, the practical definition of democracy is too contentious to be adopted as a political system. The following shortened excerpt from Toward Democracy analyzes three contested principles of democracy: popular sovereignty, autonomy, and equality.
It is difficult to think of a literary narrative, other than Robinson Crusoe, that economists have so enthusiastically appropriated as part of their cultural heritage. The image of Robinson, shipwrecked, alone, and forced to decide how to use his finite resources, has become almost emblematic in the teaching of the problem of choice in economics.
Religious entities pay more taxes than many people believe. Moreover, churches and other religious organizations are treated quite diversely by different taxes and by different states. Sometimes churches and other religious entities are taxed in the same fashion as secular organizations and persons are.
In the weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, New York City’s position as the center of the financial world came into question. Now, 16-years after the day that could have permanently changed the course of New York’s history, downtown Manhattan rebuilt both its buildings and status of importance. Lynne B. Sagalyn examines the economic impact of the World Trade Center’s fall and rise in the following excerpt from Power at Ground Zero.
Money. The root of all evil. It can’t buy you love, but it makes the world go round. Few people understood the vast complexities of currency better than Karl Marx. His book Capital, is seen by many as the authoritative theoretical text on economy, politics, and materialist philosophy. Its vast critiques have fostered new studies on capitalist practices relating to what exactly is ‘value’, many of which are still referenced today by countless economic experts.
Governments no doubt draw lessons from financial crises and adopt measures to prevent their recurrence. However, these often address the causes of the last crisis but not the next one. More importantly, they can actually become the new sources of instability and crisis. This appears to be the case in Asia where the lessons drawn from the 1997 crisis and the measures implemented thereupon may be inadequate.
Terms such as “Soldier’s Heart,” “shell shock,” and “Combat Stress Reaction” have all been used to describePost Traumatic Stress Disorder in the military. War and PTSD have a long history together, as does the stigma behind mental health within military culture.In the following excerpt from The Last and Greatest Battle John Bateson discusses the dangers of underreported PTSD and the steps we can take to help prevent military suicides.
Ann Coulter, a controversial right-wing author and commentator, was tentatively scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on April 27 until pre-speech protests turned into violent clashes, and her speech was canceled. In response, Coulter tweeted, “It’s sickening when a radical thuggish institution like Berkeley can so easily snuff out the cherished American right to free speech.”
Democrats and Republicans are increasingly polarized. Partisan strength is up, feelings toward the two parties are more extreme, and partisans are more intolerant of the other side. What gives rise to the partisan divide in American politics? One prominent theory is that Democrats and Republicans are polarized today because they differ psychologically. Republicans have become more authoritarian and Democrats less so.
It must be frustrating to be a Congressional Democrat these days. The minority party in both the House and Senate and having lost the White House, the only thing keeping the Democrats relevant is a dysfunctional White House and a disunited Republican majority in Congress. There is, however, one area in which they should drop any obstructionism and play ball with the Republicans—raising the debt ceiling.
Is burlesque an expression of sex-positive feminism, or is it inherently sexist? In the following excerpt from The League of Exotic Dancers: Legends from American Burlesque, documentarian Kaitlyn Regehr and photographer Matilda Temperley share narratives by burlesque dancers who embraced this form of art as an early expression of women’s rights.
Global refugee numbers are at their highest levels since the end of World War II, but the system in place to deal with them, based upon a humanitarian list of imagined “basic needs,” has changed little. In this excerpt from Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World, authors Paul Collier and Alexander Betts explain the cause and effect of mass violence, a far too common pre-cursor to refugee crises and global displacement.
Now that we have passed the 200-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency and can take stock of elements of change and continuity in US policy-making in the new administration, it is important not to lose sight of the continued importance of state governments.