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Making an example of rioters

By Susan Easton
In the wake of the recent riots, much attention has been given to the causes of the riots but an issue now at the forefront of press and public concern is the level of punishment being meted out to those convicted of riot-related offences. Reports of first offenders being convicted and imprisoned for thefts of items of small value have raised questions about the purposes of sentencing, the problems of giving exemplary sentences and of inconsistency, as well as the issue of political pressure on sentencers.

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Phantom states and rebels with a cause

By Daniel Byman and Charles King Three years ago this month, Russia and Georgia fought a brief and brutal war over an obscure slice of mountainous land called South Ossetia that had declared its independence from Georgia. Flouting international law, Russia stepped in to defend South Ossetia and later formally recognized the secessionists as a […]

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The deep wound

By Nigel Young

Rioting in English cities can be written off as the same mindless looting and burning that spread in US cities such as Los Angeles in the past. (I’m reminded of the 1965 Watts riots.) But then as now, context is everything. In a simplistic analysis, a feral elite has bred a “feral” urban mob in a classic, centuries-old repetition of patterns of social discontent, bubbling to the surface in a sudden expression of blind undirected rage. The young, the jobless and the marginal, in particular, sense at least their displacement and invisibility.

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Feral capitalism hits the streets

By David Harvey

“Nihilistic and feral teenagers” the Daily Mail called them: the crazy youths from all walks of life who raced around the streets mindlessly and desperately hurling bricks, stones and bottles at the cops while looting here and setting bonfires there, leading the authorities on a merry chase of catch-as-catch-can as they tweeted their way from one strategic target to another.

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5 greatest bar brawls in American history

1. The Philadelphia Election Riots, 1742
No reported deaths, several injured, one election lost.

Never piss off your bartender. That’s a time-honored rule understood by all regular drinkers. Obviously, this wouldn’t include Quakers Thomas Lloyd and Israel Pemberton, Jr., who had headed off to Philadelphia’s Indian King Tavern one election-day morning to see what they could do about defusing a potentially violent situation.

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Forbidden images

The world recoiled when the gay community started receiving credit for its influence in fashion and culture, but at least, according to Christopher Reed, they were being acknowledged. In his new book Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas, Reed argues that for some time, the professional art world plain ignored the gay presence.

We had the chance to speak with Reed a few weeks back at his Williams Club talk, where he laid out the tumultuous relationship between art and activism. Below we present a few of the controversial things we learned.

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Orwell and Huxley at the Shanghai World’s Fair

Tweet Who, we sometimes ask, at the dinners and debates of the intelligentsia, was the 20th century’s more insightful prophet — Aldous Huxley or George Orwell? Each is best known for his dystopian fantasy — Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984 — and both feared where modern technology might lead, for authorities and individuals alike. […]

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Outbreak: Cholera in Haiti

The recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti reminds us that this is not simply a disease of the distant and unsanitary past. The current outbreak is both unique and typical. Caused by a disease that has a long and devastating history, this Haiti outbreak has much in common with the outbreaks of the nineteenth century and twentieth century. History helps us keep in mind five key factors:

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Ask not what your country can do for you…

Tweet It’s inauguration day here in the US, and also the 50th anniversary of JFK’s famous inaugural address. (“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”) So today, the American National Biography is proud to spotlight the life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy, John Fitzgerald […]

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OUP USA 2010 Word of the Year: Refudiate

Refudiate has been named the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2010 Word of the Year! Now, does that mean that ‘refudiate’ has been added to the Dictionary? No it does not. Currently, there are no definite plans to include ‘refudiate’ in the NOAD, the OED, or any of our other dictionaries.

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The State of ‘Judenpolitik’ Before the Beginning of the War

Peter Longerich is Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway University of London and founder of the College’s Holocaust Research Centre. His book, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews, shows the steps taken by the Nazis that would ultimately lead to the Final Solution. He argues that anti-Semitism was not a mere by-product of Nazi political mobilization or an attempt to deflect the attention of the masses. Rather, from 1933 onwards, anti-Jewish policy was a central tenet of the Nazi movement’s attempts to implement, disseminate, and secure National Socialist rule. In the excerpt below Longerich analyzes the state of Jewish citizens of Germany right before the start of the war.

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The Beatles, Orientalism, and Help!

By Gordon Thompson
At the July 29, 1965 premiere of the Beatles’ second film, Help!, most viewers understood the farce as a send-up of British flicks that played on the exoticism of India, while at the same time spoofing the popularity of James Bond. Parallel with this cinematic escapism, a post-colonial discourse began that questioned how colonial powers justified their economic exploitation of the world. Eventually, Edward Said’s Orientalism would describe the purpose of this objectification as “dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” (1978: 3). In effect, Said and others argued that portrayals of the non-Western other

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“Refudiate this, word snobs!”

Here at Oxford, we love words. We love when they have ancient histories, we love when they have double-meanings, we love when they appear in alphabet soup, and we love when they are made up.

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Racism, the NAACP and the Tea Party Movement

The NAACP was doing its job when it accused the Tea Party movement of harboring “racist elements,” but it didn’t necessarily go about it in the most productive way. All it took was for supporters of the Tea Party movement like Sarah Palin to write, “All decent Americans abhor racism,” and that with the election of Barack Obama we became a “post-racial” society, and the NAACP’s charge was soundly “refudiated.” Or, as Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell put it to Candy Crowley on CNN on Sunday, he’s “got better things to do” than weigh in on the debate. He was elected to deal with real problems, not problems made up in people’s heads. Case closed.

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Have these Allusions Eluded You?

Have you ever wondered where the titles of novels, plays, films and the like come from? Some are obvious, at least after you’ve read the book or seen the movie, as with Star Wars and The English Patient, but many titles are not transparent and leave you wondering just why the author chose them. These are usually allusive, they refer to something in history or literature or they take their wording from a text. These allusions are often quite esoteric, and authors must know that only some of the audience or readership will pick up on them. Presumably they get satisfaction from choosing a title with some kind of hidden significance and some theatregoers or readers probably find gratification in spotting the allusion. Surveys I have conducted over the years reveal that many allusions are lost on university students, so I’ve rounded up some examples I find to be the most “elusive”:

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