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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Welcome to Sital Niwas, Madame President

Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.

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What are human rights?

On this anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is worth reflecting on the nature of human rights and what functions they perform in moral, political and legal discourse and practice. For moral theorists, the dominant approach to the normative foundations of international human rights conceives of human rights as moral entitlements that all human beings possess by virtue of our common humanity.

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The politics of science funding

Government funding of science has become an increasingly prominent issue in the United States. Examining the current debate and its consequences, Social Problems editor Arne L. Kalleberg interviews Gordon Gauchat about his recent article “The Political Context of Science in the United States: Public Acceptance of Evidence-Based Policy and Science Funding.”

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Hope from Paris: rebuilding trust

It has begun again: the age-old cycle of hate and counter-hate, self-justification and counter-justification, the grim celebrations of righteousness and revenge. In the US, conservative politicians play on it as demagogues always have, projecting strength and patriotism by refusing to take refugees from the lands terrorized by ISIS; my own governor, Chris Christie, tries to outdo his competition by arguing that even five-year-old orphans from Syria should be stopped and sent back, as if they are tainted by being from the same part of the world as the murderers.

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The Little Sisters, the Supreme Court and the HSA/HRA alternative

The Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women, are unlikely litigants in the US Supreme Court. Consistent with their strong adherence to traditional Catholic doctrines, the Little Sisters oppose birth control. They are now in the Supreme Court because of that opposition.

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Fire and ashes: success and failure in politics

Politics is a worldly art. It is a profession that is founded on the ability to instil hope, convince doubters and unite the disunited – to find simple and pain free solutions to what are in fact complex and painful social challenges.

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Five differences between Canada and the United States

One of the tasks of a Canadian ambassador to the United States is persuading his audiences that Canadians really are distinct from Americans. One ambassador commented that if he asked an audience The Question – was there a difference – Americans would politely say no, not really, and Canadians would say the opposite. What is the correct answer to The Question – or is there a correct answer?

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Entering an uncharted realm of climate change

This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 21st annual session of the Conference of the Parties since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.

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The need for immediate presidential action to close Guantanamo

Despite promising at the start of his presidency to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Obama has yet to exercise the clear independent authority to do so. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, 2009 White House counsel Gregory B. Craig and Cliff Sloan, special envoy for Guantanamo closure 2013 and 2014, urged President Obama to abandon trying to get Congressional approval.

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The European Union: too much democracy, too little, or both?

In a symbolic gesture toward creating an ever closer Union, the European Union conferred citizenship on everyone who was also a subject of one of its member states. However, the rights of European citizens are more like those of subjects of the pre-1914 Germain Kaiser than of a 21st century European democracy.

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Social opulence: re-branding Labour

Corbynomics has yet to be unpacked. And when it is, there’s danger it will be branded as a return to the bad old days of tax and spend, when the 1983 Labour manifesto was dismissed by pundits as the longest suicide note in history. To avoid this, what Labour needs are some big and positive ideas; ideas that that resonate with the public and which capture that popular mood of radicalism that has put Jeremy Corbyn where he is.

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Can institutions care? An analysis of Pope Francis’ call to care

On his recent trip to the United States, Pope Francis made an appeal for caring before a joint meeting of Congress: “A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk, is always based on care for the people.” At various points on his trip the Pope expressed concern for poverty, immigration, incarceration, and capital punishment. He was clearly suggesting that the United States could do so much more to care for its citizens and the world’s citizens.

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When aging policies can’t keep up with aging families

The very look and feel of families today is undergoing profound changes. Are public policies keeping up with the shifting definitions of “family”? Moreover, as the population ages within these new family dynamics, how will families give or receive elder care? Below, we highlight just a few social changes that are affecting the experiences of aging families.

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SIPRI Yearbook Online

Are you a foreign affairs expert? [quiz]

From peace missions and cyber attacks, border disputes and disarmament treaties taking place across the globe, there’s no doubt that 2014 was a tumultuous and eventful year for foreign affairs and international relations. Which government declared itself feminist in 2014? Do you know which countries spend the most on their military? Who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize […]

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Junior doctor contracts: should they be challenged?

On Saturday 17 October, 16,000 people marched to protest against the new junior doctor contracts in London for the second time. The feeling at the protest was one of overwhelming solidarity, as people marched with placards of varying degrees of humour. Purposely misspelled placards reading “junior doctors make mistaks” were a popular choice, while many groups gathered under large banners identifying their hospital, offering 30% off.

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