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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The importance of physics for humanists and historians

If you studied history, sociology, or English literature in your post-secondary education, it was probably in part because physics was too hard to understand or not as interesting. If you did not pay attention to quiet developments in the world of physics over the past several decades, you missed some very interesting important discoveries. Today, physics is not what our parents or even any of us who went to high school or university in the last quarter of the twentieth century learned because the physicists have been busy learning a lot of new things.

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Crisis in Catalonia

Spain is living through sad times. The Catalan parliament’s illegal proclamation of an independent state has sparked the most serious constitutional crisis since the failed coup in 1981. But unlike that crisis, this one has no easy solution. All the stereotypes that Spaniards are incapable of living together, epitomised by the 1936-39 Civil War, are being reinforced.

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The Bolivarian (r)evolution: the perpetual liberation of Venezuela

Ignoring both domestic and international protests, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro has recently overseen the creation of a Constituent Assembly with the power to dissolve parliament, rewrite the constitution, and remove any remaining checks on his power. But this should not be interpreted merely as a power grab by yet another desperate ruler. History’s invisible hand is at work, playing out a recurring theme that has haunted Venezuela since its formation by Simón Bolívar.

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Oxford Philosophy Festival, 16th–19th November 2017

Oxford University Press and Blackwell’s are delighted to team up once again to host the Oxford Philosophy Festival to celebrate the quest for knowledge and ideas. This year, our theme centres around applying philosophy in politics. Come and join us as we discuss religious liberty and discrimination with John Corvino, the benefits of a marriage-free state with Clare Chambers, the true nature of the oil industry with Leif Wenar, and much more

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Public lands, private profit

Although no signature legislation has passed, President Trump and his congressional allies have already made several consequential changes, notably in the ways that the administration is undermining the public lands system. Americans have long contended over public lands, as we should. And that is a historical oddity, because perhaps nowhere in the world do people love private property as much as in the United States.

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Constitutional resistance to executive power

In a blog post following the election of Donald J. Trump, Professor Mark A. Graber examined the new president’s cavalier attitude toward constitutional norms and predicted that, “[o]ver the next few years, Americans and constitutional observers are likely to learn whether the Framers in 1787 did indeed contrive ‘a machine that would go of itself’ or whether human intervention is necessary both to operate the constitution and compensate for systemic constitutional failures.”

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When rivers die – and are reborn

Most of the great cities of the world were built on rivers, for rivers have provided the water, the agricultural fertility, and the transport links essential for most great civilizations. This presents a series of puzzles. Why have the people who depend on those rivers so often poisoned their own water sources? How much pollution is enough to kill a river? And what is needed to bring one back to life?

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Disaggregation and the war on terror [excerpt]

The early years of the 21st century are marred by acts of violence and terrorism on a global scale. Over a decade later the world’s problems in dealing with international threats are unfortunately far from over. In this excerpt from Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism, author David Kilcullen looks back on a time he was called upon to help develop a strategy for the Australian government in fighting this new global threat.

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The relevance of the Russian Revolution [video]

This year, 2017, marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution, a defining moment in time with ripple effects felt across the world to this day. In the following video, author Laura Engelstein sits down with Oxford University Press editor Tim Bent to discuss the history of the revolution, its global impact, and her book Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921.

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Hannah Arendt and the source of human values

Hannah Arendt was a literary intellectual, defined by Thomas Pynchon as, “people who read and think.” Like Socrates, Hannah Arendt thought and went where thought took her. Arendt’s thinking led her many places, but one of the more interesting topics she thought about was the source of human values.

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The current conflict between Spain and Catalonia explained

Spain is a state split into autonomous communities, three of which—Catalonia, Galicia, and Basque Country—are denominated historic communities, having their own languages that coexist co-officially with Castilian, the official language of Spain. All the autonomous communities in Spain have their Statutes of Autonomy, the basic institutional legislation for an autonomous community, recognized by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

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What brought down the coal industry and will its recent recovery last?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Donald Trump ran for office on a platform that included supporting the coal industry. His open embrace of coal mining gave hope to an industry that has experienced a steady decline in production and jobs since the mid-2000s. In 2016, coal production reached its lowest point since 1978, when the US population was only 70% of what it is today.

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Climate change: a call for government intervention [video]

“The world is facing a catastrophe.” It is too late for individuals to make a significant difference in the preservation of ice caps. At the current rate of global warming, government intervention is needed. In the following video and excerpt from A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams, one of the world’s leading experts on polar ice, discusses the role that governments around the world need to play in order to combat global warming.

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A Tale of Two New York Cities [excerpt]

New York is a city of many things to many people. But more and more those people are being divided. Those who have the means to live in comfort and splendor, and those struggling to survive in a once vast urban landscape that grows smaller and smaller with each year. In this excerpt from his book The Creative Destruction of New York City, author and urban scholar Alessandro Busà, gives us the lay of this new land where all are welcome, particularly if they can afford it.

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Who said what about Margaret Thatcher? [quiz]

No-one was neutral about Margaret Thatcher. During her premiership (and ever since), she has inspired both wild enthusiasm and determined opposition, and many vivid descriptions as a result. Many critics have described Margaret Thatcher as divisive, accusing her of paying little attention to social issues. Do you know which of these remarks were made by her supporters and which by her opponents?

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Buddhist nationalists and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar part II: the rise of religious nationalism and Islamophobia

Since August over 420,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar, citing human rights abuses and seeking temporary refuge in Bangladesh. In part one we looked at the background and context of the Rohingya crisis. In this second part of Sarah Seniuk’s and Abby Kulisz’s interview with Michael Jerryson, they look at the role of Buddhist nationalism and the impact of Islamophobia in the developing crisis.

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