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1. Beyond Brexit panic: an American perspective

By now, the early Brexit panic based on assumptions of catastrophe, disaster, and apocalypse, is giving way to more positive attitudes in the science fields. Yes, there are changes coming, sometimes painful, but there are also opportunities for new partnerships, fresh collaborations, and bolder directions. I was on a month-long visit to the United Kingdom when the Brexit vote took place

The post Beyond Brexit panic: an American perspective appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. How long was my century?

In 2002 I faced a dilemma relating to an editorial project that perhaps only another historian can appreciate. Scrambling to complete the Introduction to Twentieth-Century China: New Approaches, I had to figure out how long to say the eponymous period had lasted.

The post How long was my century? appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Joyce Brabner is putting on a Comixcast from the Republican National Convention – and you can help

This year’s Republican National Convention (held July 18-21 in Cleveland) promises to be a spectacle of unsurpassed Marvels. Either it will be the greatest reality show episode of all time, as a TV pitchman is crowned with the nomination; or a Game of Thrones-style melee of cutthroat political intrigue that will leave the Grand Sept […]

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4. Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over “Illegal Alien”

Over the past several months, a quiet battle has been raging among librarians and politicians over the term “illegal alien.” For many years, immigrant rights activists have argued against using the term, which has taken on a decidedly pejorative meaning. Activists and legal experts note that while actions can be “illegal,” human beings cannot – to refer to them as such criminalizes existence itself.

While several news outlets have pledged to cease using the term “illegal alien,”  there’s one place where the term still stands: the Library of Congress. But while subject headings don’t usually claim a lot of media attention or political interest, the Library of Congress has become a battleground for those who want to replace the term, and for those who won’t give it up. Here’s a timeline of the issue (for more detail, check out this excellent Library Journal piece):

2013

Dartmouth College student Melissa Padilla notices problematic search terms while researching a paper. Padilla and classmates bring the issue up with Dartmouth’s librarians, and discover that the search terms come from the Library of Congress and cannot be changed within Dartmouth’s libraries. Together, librarians and students work on a proposal asking the Library of Congress to replace the term “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant.” The proposal is submitted in summer 2014.

2015

After consulting with staff members, the Library of Congress releases a public memo stating that it will not change the wording because the phrase “Undocumented immigrant” is not directly synonymous with “Illegal alien.” Word spreads to members of the American Library Association, who decide to work through the system to try to push the change through.

January 2016

Various divisions and affiliates of the ALA, including the subject I believe the term alien is not only offensive but also dehumanizing. These folks may not be U.S. citizens, but they're not from outer space. They are human beings.analysis committee, social responsibilities roundtable, and REFORMA, formulate a resolution asking the Library of Congress to reconsider the original request.  The resolution passes at the ALA midwinter meeting in January 2016.

March 2016

The Library of Congress announces that it will no longer use “illegal aliens” as a bibliographic term, saying that the once common phrase has become offensive. The library plans to use “noncitizens” in place of “aliens” and “unauthorized immigration” in place of “illegal immigration.”

April 2016

After learning of the change, conservative Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee introduce a provision calling for the term’s reinstatement, which is tied to a bill for Library of Congress funding. They argue that the term is legally accurate and should not be changed for the sake of political correctness.

June 2016

The House votes 237-170 to order the Library of Congress to continue using the term “illegal alien.” This is the first time in history that the House has interfered in the Library of Congress’ subject headings processes.

As a company that values diversity, this is an issue that we feel deeply invested in. Those of us who love books know well how powerful just one word can be. When that word is tied to our identity, it can not only define us but also define how others see us. It can make us feel safe, or endangered. It can make us feel proud, or ashamed. We believe that the term “illegal alien” is derogative and has no place in the Library of Congress. To see it politicized- and especially to see the power of decision taken away from expert librarians and placed in the hands of politicians- is disheartening and alarming.

Tomorrow, we’ll share a guest post with René Colato Laínez, author of Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre about his own experience being called an “illegal alien” when he was young.

In the meantime, the Library of Congress has posted a survey where the public can share their thoughts on the proposed changes. If you would like to see the terminology changed, you can fill out this survey through July 20.

2 Comments on Diversity 102: The Library of Congress Battle Over “Illegal Alien”, last added: 6/17/2016
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5. Mass / Blood

I have been busy and have neglected this blog. I forgot to make a post here about some of the most exciting news of my year: I have a story in the current issue of my favorite literary magazine, Conjunctions. It's titled "Mass" and it is about, among other things, a mass shooting.

Early this morning, at least 50 people were killed and 53 wounded in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The New York Times is currently calling this the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

I'm not going to write about the gun politics of this. For that, please read the work of Patrick Blanchfield, particularly "So There's Just Been a Mass Shooting", "God and Guns", and "The Gun Control We Deserve". (He's excellent on Twitter, as well, if you want his most recent thoughts.) I have sputtered on about the topic in the past, not always coherently. Patrick is better at it, and better informed, than I. Thinking through the complex, contradictory, vexing, and emotionally charged landscape of gun politics, I'm better (or at least more comfortable) in fiction. Thus, "Mass".

(Titles fascinate me. The title of this issue of Conjunctions is Affinity: The Friendship Issue. Affinity is something more than friendship. Friendship is useful, it feels good, it glues us socially, and sometimes it may be, yes, an issue. But affinity is more: its etymology [via Latin and French, a story told by the OED] is rich with ideas of relationship: relationship via marriage; any relationship other than marriage; a neighborhood; relationship between people based on common ground in their characters and tastes; spiritual connection; structural relationship; adjacency.)

A character in "Mass" has been reading theoretical physics:

“Not especially detailed theoretical physics, but introductory sorts of texts, popularizations, books for people who don’t really ever have a hope of truly understanding physics but nonetheless possess a certain curiosity. And its words are sometimes beautiful — a tachyonic field of imaginary mass — who couldn’t love such a phrase? I find it all strangely comforting, the more far-out ideas of quantum theory and such. It’s like religion, but without all the rigmarole and obeisance to a god. Or perhaps more like poetry, though really not, because it’s something somehow outside language, but nonetheless elegant, and of course constricted by language, since how else can we communicate about it? But it gestures, at least, toward whatever lies beyond logos, beyond our ability even to reason, though perhaps not to comprehend. At my age, and having spent a life devoted to language, there is comfort and excitement — even perhaps some inchoate feeling of hope — in glimpses beyond the realm of words. There is, I have come to believe, very much outside the text. What is it though? Call it God, call it Nature, call it the Universe, call it what it seems to me now to be — having read and I’m sure misunderstood my theoretical physics — call it: an asymptote.”
Mass. Affinity. Asymptotes.

The OED: b. Relationship by blood, consanguinity; common ancestry of individuals, races, etc.; an instance of this.

And then there is "Blood". And Blood: Stories.

"Why did you give it that title?" people ask. There are a lot of answers. (And that, in itself, is an answer.) Here's one: As a child of the early AIDS era, I always knew queer blood is politicized and scary. Scary, thus politicized. Politicized, thus scary.

Until recently, the FDA prohibited any man who had had sex with men since 1977 from donating blood. Now, if you've been celibate for a year, you can donate. The massacre in Orlando brought this policy back into the news, with various outlets reporting that while queers were attacked, and blood was needed, any man who had had sex with a man in the last year could not, under FDA rules, donate blood.

Blood is a reality and blood is a potent metaphor: beautiful and terrifying, wonderful and evil.

Consanguinity.

Blood is life and blood is death; blood is family and blood is genocide.

Is there an opposite to blood? What is water in our metaphors? It washes blood away, but also sustains us as we live, for much of what we are is water. Tears are made of water, salt, enzymes, hormones. They taste like oceans and look like rain.

Water is what we weep.

I weep for my queer brethren. I weep, too, for the inevitable homonationalism as queer shoulders are put to the wheel of US imperialism and US exceptionalism; as pride is wielded for Us against Them.

But I am not feeling political today.

Sometime looking backward
into this future, straining
neck and eyes I'll meet your shadow
with its enormous eyes
     you who will want to know
     what this was all about          

—Adrienne Rich,
"A Long Conversation"

Yesterday, my aunt, after (as they say) a (short? long? relative to what?) illness, died.

We had never lived near each other, but she was a profound influence on my life. She and her daughter, my cousin, gave me Stephen King stories when I was much too young for them. Night Shift, Skeleton Crew. The titles are still magic to me, the covers of the old paperbacks as powerful as any personal icon I have. So much of what I became as a writer is because of those stories. So much of what I became as a writer, then, is because of her.

She was a brilliant artist, a fun and funny person, so smart, so straightforward, saucy, even, and strong as the mightiest metal. She had a magnificent life with magnificent people in it, as well as hardship, oh yes, hardship, indeed, as we all do, yes, but still: she struggled, persevered, survived, didn't let the bastards get her down.

I will miss her forever and cherish her forever. Her husband, my uncle, provided me with my middle name, and I am always proud to have been named for him, one of the best people I know.

(The cover of my book called Blood is a picture of a man with his heart removed.)

At the wedding of my youngest uncle some years ago, my oldest uncle, this great man now a widower, gave a toast in which he said ours is a motley family of steps and halfs, of once- and twice-removeds, of marriages and unions and affinities, but in the end those designations don't much matter, because family is family, and that's who we are, and what we are, and what we have, because we love each other.

Affinity. And even more so that most important of political cries: Solidarity.

I remember that Auden kept revising his poem "September 1, 1939", because he couldn't decide between "We must love one another or die," "We must love one another and die," or nothing at all.

Here, then, my own tentative, inadequate revision: We must love one another or nothing at all.

I loved my aunt fiercely, and I love fiercely all you queer folk out there aching and screaming and scared and willing to fight, and all who dance against the gunfire, hands held together through the pain, lips together in solidarity, lives together as we live and live and live — even if separated by oceans, even if drowning in tears — always striving, even if never reaching, like asymptotes, like believers and holy fools — as we remember and honor the dead, as we go on, as we must, you, me, all — whether strangers or the oldest of lovers, we are — we must be — a mass of friends, family, water, blood.


And I dream of our coming together
encircled     driven
not only by love
but by lust for a working tomorrow
the flights of this journey
mapless     uncertain
and necessary as water.

Audre Lorde
"On My Way Out I Passed Over You and the Verrazano Bridge"

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6. Bruce Campbell, political fact checker

Folks, we’re in for a bumpy ride this year as increasingly partisan politics take over the news cycle. There is only one man who can save us from ignorance to set things straight, and it’s obviously Bruce Campbell. And he’s been drawn into the fray to refute a meme that’s going arond on pro-Donald Trump […]

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7. Preview: Awesome Con is going to be…awesome

Tomorrow Awesome Con in Washington DC kicks off, and The Beat will be there. In case you missed it, last year Awesome Con partnered up with Leftfield Media, the convention organization run by Greg Topalian, who founded New York Comic Con. Greg and I had a blast working on the very first NYCC together and […]

1 Comments on Preview: Awesome Con is going to be…awesome, last added: 6/2/2016
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8. Dead body politics: what counting corpses tells us about security

What happens when dead bodies crop up where they are not supposed to be? How can this allow us to reflect on how we understand security and insecurity? For example, mass graves can be indicators of crimes against humanity. Recent satellite evidence of mass graves analyzed by Amnesty International outside of Bujumbura has led to a focus on the political violence there, a result of turmoil after Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek a third term.

The post Dead body politics: what counting corpses tells us about security appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. How well do you know Thomas Hobbes? [quiz]

This May, the OUP Philosophy team honors Thomas Hobbes (April 5, 1588 – December 4, 1679) as their Philosopher of the Month. Hobbes is remembered as the author of one of the greatest of books on political philosophy ever written, Leviathan, in which he argued with a precision reached by few other thinkers.

The post How well do you know Thomas Hobbes? [quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Veepstakes 2016: A Reality Check

Who will Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump–the Democratic and Republican Party’s likely nominees for president, respectively–pick as their vice presidential running mates? Let’s start here: It probably won’t matter much. Or, we should say, it probably won’t matter in terms of deciding the election. It could matter a great deal, however, in terms of what comes after the election. Allow us to explain.

The post Veepstakes 2016: A Reality Check appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. A prickly pair: Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter

Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter never got on. Theirs was, in fact, one of the most explosive relationships in postwar, transatlantic history and it strained to the limit the bond between West Germany and America. The problems all started before Carter became president, when the German chancellor unwisely chose to meddle in American electoral politics.

The post A prickly pair: Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Who is “victorious?”: transformed American meanings of war and power

We lost the Vietnam War. There is little reasonable ambiguity about this judgment, nor can there be any apparent consolation. Losing, after all, is assuredly worse than winning. And victory is always better than defeat.

The post Who is “victorious?”: transformed American meanings of war and power appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff

On Sunday, April 17, 2016, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved a motion to forward a petition to the Senate to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. What led Brazil to this moment? Looking back, the re-election of Dilma Rousseff to a second term as President of Brazil in October 2014 was viewed by her supporters in the Workers Party (PT) as confirmation of the rise of the working class to power in Brazil.

The post The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. International criminal law and Daesh

On 20 April 2016, after hearing harrowing testimony coming from victims, the UK House of Commons unanimously adopted a resolution declaring "That this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council [SC] with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court [ICC] so that perpetrators can be brought to justice" (HC Hansard 20 April 2016 columns 957-1000).

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15. Implicit bias in the age of Trump

By any common definition, Trump’s statements and policies are racist. Yet we are researchers on implicit bias—largely unconscious, mostly automatic social biases that can affect people’s behavior even when they intend to treat others fairly regardless of their social group identity.

The post Implicit bias in the age of Trump appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. How much of a threat does the “Brexit” referendum pose for the European Union?

Following the announcement of the so-called “Brexit” referendum on 20 February 2016 journalists and bloggers have discussed the “ins” and “outs” of EU membership, focusing on the arguments for and against, on interpreting the polls, and on reflecting on the success of the Leave and Remain camps during the first weeks of the pre-campaign period.

The post How much of a threat does the “Brexit” referendum pose for the European Union? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. MPSA’s 74th annual conference re-cap

This month, our Oxford University Press staff toured Chicago, Illinois for the Midwest Political Science Association's 74th Annual Conference.

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18. Rising to the challenge: innovations in child protective services

Protecting children from maltreatment is one of the most challenging responsibilities in social and health services. Most CPS investigations and resulting service delivery are helpful to children and families and occur without incident.

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19. And the lot fell on… sortition in Ancient Greek democratic theory & practice

Some four decades ago the late Sir Moses Finley, then Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge University, published a powerful series of lectures entitled Democracy Ancient and Modern (1973, republished in an augmented second edition, 1985). He himself had personally suffered the atrocious deficit of democracy that afflicted his native United States in the 1950s, forcing him into permanent exile, but my chief reason for citing his book here, apart from out of continuing intellectual respect, is that its title could equally well have been Democracy Ancient Versus Modern.

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20. Hate crime and anti-immigrant “talk”

Republican Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have called for the mass deportation of undocumented workers, the majority of whom hail from Mexico. To many liberals, the anti-immigrant rhetoric of these Republican candidates seems oddly anachronistic—a terrible throwback to an earlier America when we were less in touch with our melting pot roots.

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21. The ‘Panama Papers’ and corporate transparency: The UK perspective

In early 2015, confidential documents were leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper. The documents leaked came from the internal database of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. Working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media organizations from around the world, the documents (which became known as the ‘Panama Papers’) were analysed and, on the 3 April 2016, media organizations around the world published their findings.

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22. China’s smoldering volcano

The United States is far from perfect. But China still lacks an independent legal system, adequate protection of human and labor rights, genuine freedom of expression, and predictable means to address grievances. Until such reforms can be accepted in Beijing, resentment will continue to rise and China’s smoldering volcano may eventually erupt.

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23. Chills, thrills and surprises: ten years of freedom of information in the UK

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has been in the news again, when the controversial Independent Commission, much to the surprise of many, concluded the Act was ‘generally working well’, had ‘enhanced openness and transparency… there is no evidence that the Act needs to be radically altered’.

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24. The legacy of ancient Greek politics, from Antigone to Xenophon

What do the pamphlets of the English Civil War, imperial theorists of the eighteenth century, Nazi schoolteachers, and a left-wing American artist have in common? Correct! They all see themselves as in dialogue with classical antiquity, drawing on the political thought of ancient Greek writers. Nor are they alone in this; the idea that Western thought is a series of ‘footnotes to Plato’, as Alfred Whitehead suggested in 1929, is a memorable formulation of the extensive role of ancient Greece within modernity.

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25. Britain and the EU: going nowhere fast

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the consequences of David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, where he set out his plans for a referendum on British membership of the EU. I was rather dubious about such a vote even happening, and even more so about the quality of the debate that would ensue. As much as I was wrong about the former, the latter has been more than borne out by events so far.

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