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1. The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage

Today, the people of Ireland will vote in a Referendum to decide whether to include the following new wording in their Constitution: 'Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.' This may happen despite the fact that Ireland has a Constitution grounded in Catholic values. Indeed, abortion in Ireland is still constitutionally prohibited. Homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1993, and the option to divorce has only been available since 1995.

The post The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Make-Believe Empire: A How-To Book

 

Back in the United States, writers could secretly imagine the same imminent fate for themselves: that when the revolution came in America, they would become its heroes—or even its leaders.

This grandiosity helps explain why apparently intelligent writers would sign on to a project so manifestly unintelligent as America’s invasion of Iraq, confident it would go exactly as planned. We find a clue in a children’s book published in 1982 by Paul Berman, The Nation’s onetime theater critic, who went on to a career as a self-described “liberal” booster of Dick Cheney’s adventure in Iraq, framing it as an existential struggle against Islamic fascism. It was called Make-Believe Empire: A How-To Book, and it is described by the Library of Congress as “A fantasy-craft book which tells how to construct a capital city and an imperial navy…. Provides instructions for writing laws, decrees, proclamations, treaties, and imperial odes.”

Left or right, it doesn’t much matter: it sure is a bracing feeling for the chair-bound intellectual to imagine himself the drivetrain in the engine of history. Or at the very least a prophet, standing on the correct side of history and looking down upon moral midgets who insist the world is more complicated than all that.

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3. Do America’s political parties matter in presidential elections?

April 2015 will go down in history as the month that the 2016 race for the White House began in earnest. Hillary Clinton’s online declaration of her presidential candidacy was the critical moment. With it America’s two major political parties have locked horns with each other. The Democrats intend to continue their control of the presidency for another four years; Republicans hope to finally make good on a conservative bumper sticker that began appearing on automobiles as early as the summer of 2009 and that read, “Had Enough Yet? Next Time Vote Republican.”

The post Do America’s political parties matter in presidential elections? appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. The dangers of evolution denial

As the 2016 presidential election season begins (US politics, unlike nature, has seasons that are two years long), we will once again see Republican politicians ducking questions about the validity of evolution. Scott Walker did that recently in response to a London interviewer. During the previous campaign, Rick Perry answered the question by observing that there are “some gaps” in the theory of evolution and that creationism is taught in the Texas public schools (it isn’t, of course).

The post The dangers of evolution denial appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. What puts veterans at risk for homelessness?

There has been an ongoing battle to end homelessness in the United States, particularly among veterans. Over the past three decades, considerable research has been conducted to identify risk factors for veteran homelessness, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has funded much of that research. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced its commitment to end veteran homelessness in five years. As we near the end of that five years, it’s important to reflect on what we have learned and what we now know about veteran homelessness.

The post What puts veterans at risk for homelessness? appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Powell’s Q&A: Chris Hedges

Describe your latest book. Wages of Rebellion looks at the nature of rebellion, those who do it, why they do it, and the price they pay for being a rebel. There are interviews with great rebels, from Julian Assange to Mumia Abu Jamal, who have sacrificed enormously for their resistance. The book posits that these [...]

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7. Neverending nightmares: who has the power in international policy?

Late last year, North Korea grabbed headlines after government-sponsored hackers infiltrated Sony and exposed the private correspondence of its executives. The more significant news that many may have missed, however, was the symbolic and long overdue UN resolution condemning the crimes against humanity North Korean committed against its own people.

The post Neverending nightmares: who has the power in international policy? appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Hillary Clinton and voter disgust

Hillary Clinton declared that she is running for the Democratic Party nomination in a Tweet that was sent out Sunday, April 12. This ended pundit conjecture that she might not run, either because of poor health, lack of energy at her age, or maybe she was too tarnished with scandal. Yet, such speculation was just idle chatter used to fill media space. Now that Clinton has declared her candidacy, the media and political pundits have something real to discuss.

The post Hillary Clinton and voter disgust appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. This One Summer wins Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize and some other award winners

ths_one_summer.jpg

Graphic novels have a lot more prizes than they once did, including literary awards that help validate the medium. Awards season is well upon us, and I’ve been way behind in noting some of the most important.

§ This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki continued to barnstorm all the honors by winning the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, perhaps th emost prestigious stand-alone comics prize in the US. The jury cited the book thusly

“This One Summer,” says the jury, “is a beautifully drawn, keenly observed story. It is told with a fluid line and a sensitive eye to the emblematic moments that convey character, time, and place—the surf at night, the sound of flip-flops, a guarded sigh—all at the meandering pace of a summer’s vacation. The Tamakis astutely orchestrate the formal complexities of the graphic novel in the service of an evocative, immersive story. At first blush a coming of age story centered on two young girls, the book belongs equally to all its cast of characters, any of whom feel realized enough to have supported a narrative in their own right. Striking, relatable, and poignant, this graphic novel lingers with readers long after their eyes have left the pages.”

Richard McGuire’s Here was named an Honoree:

Of “Here” the jury says, “Making literal the idiom ‘if these walls could talk…’ McGuire’s ‘Here’ curates the long history of events transpiring in one location. Through the subtle transposition of objects and individuals in a room, the book teaches us that space is defined over time. … Evoking our longing for place, the book performs this cumulative effect for the reader, by layering people, experiences, and events in the context of a single environment.”

The Prize is presented by Penn State and is named after the author of what are now accepted to be early example of standalone graphic novels. (Ward donated his papers to the university.) This year’s jury consisted of Joel D. Priddy, Veronica Hicks, Brandon Hyde, Brent Book and Jonathan E. Abel. MOre information on the prize, the jury and past winners can be found here.

here_mcguire

§ The Cartoonist Studio Prize, presented by Slate Magazine and the Center for Cartoon Studies, was also presented a while back. And the graphic novel winners Here by Richard McCguire. (Do you sense a pattern here?) The webcomic prize was won by Winston Rowntree for Watching. The prize comes with a $1000 cash award for each. This year’s jury consisted of Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois; CCS fellow Sophie Yanow; and guest judge, cartoonist Paul Karasik. You can see all the runners up in the above link.

(This result has been sitting in my links for a month; apologies and congratulations to the winners.)

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§ While This One Summer and Here have scooped up a bunch of prizes, you must be wondering about the third most honored graphic novel of 2014, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. Well, Chast won the Heinz Award, which is present to six “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” Along with glory, the prize includes $250,000 in cash.

” ‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” Chast says of her reaction. “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.”

 

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§ As you may have heard, the PEN American Center, a literary organization that promotes free speech, presented French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, and all hell broke loose. Many prominent authors protested the award on the grounds that Charlie Hebdo is offensive. You can read many of those comments here. Other authors, including Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel and Salmon Rushdie filled the tables at the awards gala vacated by the protesters, and defended Charlie Hebdo as an equal opportunity satirist. You can read all about that here.

While no one in the kerfuffle seems to think that being offensive deserves death, the dissenters felt that giving Charlie Hebdo an award intensified “the anti-Islamic,
anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

The pro-Charlie group felt that, as Gaiman put it, “The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are getting an award for courage. They continued putting out their magazine after the offices were firebombed [in 2011], and the survivors have continued following the murders.”

There aren’t any easy answers here. Terrorists acts are committed to create terror and confusion and turn ordinary people on both sides into radicals. In this goal, at least, the Hebdo attacks were a rousing success.

In the above photo Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard accepts the award as Alain Mabanckou looks on. AP photo by Beowulf Sheehan

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10. Afterwar – Episode 22 – The Oxford Comment

As 2.6 million men and women return home from warthe prevalence of veteran suicide and post-traumatic stress is something that is frequently discussed by civilians, politicians, and the media, but seldom understood. These changes extend beyond psychological readjustment, physical handicap, and loss of life. The greatest wounds, in fact, may not even be visible to the naked eye. While the dialogue concerning veteran assistance typically involves the availability of institutional services, military hospitals, and other resources, there is also an increasing need to address the “moral injuries” sustained by soldiers during combat.

But what, exactly, is moral injury? In this month’s episode, Ryan Cury, a Trade Marketing Manager in the New York office, sat down with Nancy Sherman, author of Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers, to discuss the painful questions veterans bring home from war, as well as the possibility of inner healing.

 Image Credit: “New York City Veterans Day Parade 2012″ by Dave Bledsoe. CC BY NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

The post Afterwar – Episode 22 – The Oxford Comment appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Putting industrial policy back on the agenda

As the UK General Election draws near, the economy has again been the over-riding feature of the campaign. Yet the debate itself has been pretty narrow, being principally framed around ‘austerity’ and the reduction of the size of the government’s budget deficit. The major political parties are all committed to eradicating this deficit, with the main question being the time-frame in achieving this goal.

The post Putting industrial policy back on the agenda appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Cyber won’t protect us: the need to stand behind the Iranian nuclear framework agreement

After two years of negotiations, Israel throwing whatever they can against any possible agreement, and the Republicans in the US Congress doing what they can to scuttle the deal, we finally have a framework for an agreement between Iran and its negotiating partners. It is not a perfect deal, but it is likely the best the West can get and given the other options, it is literally the only hope standing between a rational dialogue with Iran and outright conflict.

The post Cyber won’t protect us: the need to stand behind the Iranian nuclear framework agreement appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Keep the Cadillac tax

The Obamacare “Cadillac tax” is currently scheduled to go into effect in 2018. However, last week, sixty-six members of the House of Representatives, including both Republicans and Democrats, proposed to repeal the Cadillac tax before it becomes effective. The Cadillac tax will be imposed at a 40% rate on the cost of health care insurance, exceeding statutorily-established thresholds. Unions and many of their Democratic stalwarts, otherwise supportive of Obamacare, oppose the Cadillac tax because generous union-sponsored health care plans will trigger the tax.

The post Keep the Cadillac tax appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. How many of these famous political quotes have you heard before?

The week of the UK general election has finally arrived. After suffering weeks of incessant sound-bites, you will soon be free of political jargon for another few years. Phrases like “long-term economic plan” have been repeated so often that they have ceased to mean anything. From Margaret Thatcher to Harold Wilson, from Benjamin Disraeli to Winston Churchill, British prime ministers and politicians have uttered phrases that have echoed throughout history. How many of these famous political quotes do you remember?

The post How many of these famous political quotes have you heard before? appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Five years of Labour opposition

The 7 May 2015 marks the conclusion of a long and challenging five years for Ed Miliband as leader of the opposition. After one of the worst defeats in the party’s history in May 2010, he took over as the new leader of the Labour party with the mission to bring the party back into power after only one term in opposition. A difficult task at the best of times, but made even harder due to internal tensions between Blairites and Brownites, Blue Labour and New Labour as well as many voters blaming the previous Labour government for the economic state of the country immediately after the 2010 election.

The post Five years of Labour opposition appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Fig leaves and fairy tales: political promises and the Truth-O-Meter

The Tampa Bay Times is a very fine newspaper. One of its most insightful features -- indeed, a feature that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 -- is its PolitiFact website. This is an independent on-line platform through which a legion of reporters and editors fact-check every statement, promise and half-hearted mumble ever made by a politician, political candidate, political party, or campaign group.

The post Fig leaves and fairy tales: political promises and the Truth-O-Meter appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Reference and the election of the new Italian President

After three inconclusive rounds in the preceding days, in which nobody secured the two-thirds majority needed to win, on the morning of 31 January 2015 a fourth round of voting was held in the Italian Parliament to elect the country’s President. This time, a simple majority of the 1,009 eligible voters (the members of both Chambers of the Parliament plus some delegates from the Regions) was enough to decide the election.

The post Reference and the election of the new Italian President appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Making plans for Nigel (Dodds): the General Election and Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s part in the General Election, often seen as peripheral, has already attracted more interest than usual. The Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) status as Westminster’s fourth largest party has not gone unnoticed – except perhaps by television broadcasters anxious to clinch election debates involving the leaders of much smaller parliamentary parties.

The post Making plans for Nigel (Dodds): the General Election and Northern Ireland appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Cartoon-Politics

cartoon - politicsबात चुनाव की हो और दलबदलू का जिक्र न आए … ऐसा भला कभी हो सकता है. नेता वही जो हर बार पार्टी बदले और जनता से वायदे करे. अब इस कार्टून मे नेता जी की पत्नी का दर्द झलक रहा है. नेता जी बेचारे 20 साल से एक ही पार्टी मे है और श्रीमति जी उन्हे फोर्स यानि दवाब डाल रही है कि पार्टी बदल लो .. सभी ऐसा करते है पर आप नही … मालिश करते हुए नेता जी का ब्रेन वाश न कर दे …

The post Cartoon-Politics appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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20. From Carter to Clinton: Selecting presidential nominees in the modern era

Franklin D. Roosevelt broke the two-term precedent set by George Washington by running for and winning a third and fourth term. Pressure for limiting terms followed FDR’s remarkable record. In 1951 the Twenty-Second constitutional amendment was ratified stating: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice…” Accordingly, reelected Presidents must then govern knowing they cannot run again.

The post From Carter to Clinton: Selecting presidential nominees in the modern era appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. A woman’s journey in Kashmiri politics

Nyla Ali Khan’s recent book The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation, though primarily a biography of her grandmother Akbar Jehan, promises to be much more than that. It is also a narration of the story of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the charismatic political leader who is still recognized as the greatest political leader that Kashmir ever produced.

The post A woman’s journey in Kashmiri politics appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Mapping out the General Election

In anticipation of the imminent General Election on 7 May 2015, we pulled together information from Who’s Who to take a closer look at the major players bidding for our votes. We’ve mapped nine party leaders and deputy leaders to their constituencies.

The post Mapping out the General Election appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Is asylum a principle of the liberal democratic state?

Asylum is the protection that a State grants on its territory or in some other place under its control—for instance an Embassy or a warship—to a person who seeks it. In essence, asylum is different from refugee status, as the latter refers to the category of individuals who benefit from asylum, as well as the content of such protection. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the debate on asylum. The highly publicised decision by Ecuador to grant asylum to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange in June 2012 (which prompted a Resolution of the Organisation of American States), as well as the international dispute in 2013 involving several countries across the world in the case of Edward Snowden (which prompted the European Parliament to call on European States to grant him asylum) brought this debate back into focus, particularly as it relates to issues of State sovereignty.

The post Is asylum a principle of the liberal democratic state? appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Play it again (Uncle) Sam: continuities between the adoption and renewal of Trident

In March 2007 the British government of Tony Blair officially decided to extend the life of the Trident submarine deterrent through a ‘life extension programme’ whilst also placing before parliament the need for a successor system. This essentially began the debate on a successor system.

The post Play it again (Uncle) Sam: continuities between the adoption and renewal of Trident appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. Review: Pleasantville by Attica Locke

I used to love legal thrillers. They were the first crime books I got into when I was a teenager. There was a mystery but there was also an argument to made and refuted. Unlike other crime stories the legal thriller must get down to the bones of right and wrong, innocence and guilt. The […]

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