M. L. King Day 2017: A Time for Principled Defiance

by Robert Creamer Added 16.01.2017
This M. L. King Day, 2017 is an especially important time for us to celebrate and emulate the principled defiance of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Persistent, unapologetic – doggedly non-violent – Dr. King stood like a rock – defiant of the bigotry, racism and disenfranchisement of his time.  Refusing to bend, he inspired a movement that changed America.  In May, 1940, much of the British army was surrounded by German forces – its backs to the...

How Finland could see benefits from its basic income experiment

by Surraya Rowe and Chris Parry Added 14.01.2017
One of the greatest political challenges in the 21st century is coming up with a welfare system which is both effective and fair. Recipients and non-recipients of benefits payments are both quick to point out apparent deficiencies in the status quo – as well as problems with any potential alternatives. But some countries are clearly ready for change. As of January 1 2017, Finland became the first European country to implement a plan whereby...

Why 2017 is the year of the bot

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 07.01.2017
In the 2013 movie “Her,” Theodore Twombly, a lonely writer, falls in love with a digital assistant designed to meet his every need.  She sorts emails, helps get a book published, provides personal advice and ultimately becomes his girlfriend.  The assistant, Samantha, is A.I. software capable of learning at an astonishing pace. Samantha will remain in the realm of science fiction for at least another decade, but less-functional digital...

Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House

by Juan Cole Added 03.01.2017
It is 2017, and shortly the White House will be inhabited by an unscrupulous, corrupt narcissist who has shamelessly mobilized the Neo-Nazi fringe of the Republican Party to get into power. Despite all the cries of ‘no’ to normalization on the left, Trump will be normalized by the same corporate media that virtually boycotted Bernie Sanders. He will be respectfully called “the president” and his wishes and goals will be praised on cable...

2017: The Beginning of the Era of Disruption

by Daniel Wagner Added 02.01.2017
In this era of dramatic, rampant, and incessant political change, predictions about the future can no longer be based either on conventional wisdom or historical precedent. We are, after all, in the middle of a paradigm shift that is shredding prognosticators and their prognostications with voraciousness. Just as virtually all of those highly paid political pundits missed by a mile the Brexit and Trump’s electoral victory, economic pundits...

Was 2016 just 1938 all over again?

by Julie Gottlieb Added 31.12.2016
On December 31 1937, Cambridge classicist and man of letters F L Lucas embarked on an experiment. He would keep a diary for exactly one calendar year. It was, as he put it: “an attempt to give one answer, however inadequate, however fragmentary, to the question that will surely be asked one day by some of the unborn – with the bewilderment, one hopes, of a happier age: ‘What can it have felt like to live in that strange, tormented and...

Troubling Omens as We Approach the Presidency of Donald J. Trump

by David Coates Added 31.12.2016
  These are early days of course. Nothing has happened yet to directly justify a rush to judgment. But enough happened during the campaign, and enough is happening now in the interregnum between the election and the inauguration, to give genuine cause for concern. These three large concerns at the very least. The Prospect of Bad Policies to Come  Had Hillary Clinton won, we would now be contemplating the possibilities of extending access to...

Fringe helped elect Trump by crossing over into mainstream

by Lawrence Rosenthal Added 19.12.2016
The self-described “alt-right” represents what for many decades has been an offshoot of radical conservatism, mixing racism, white nationalism and populism. At its most extreme, we find virulently antiblack and anti-Semitic groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi political parties. Now, in an astonishingly short period of 18 months, white nationalism made the leap from the fringe of American politics to the commanding heights of the...

Donald Trump’s Angry Narcissistic Fog is a Threat to Democracy Everywhere

by Ian Hughes Added 17.12.2016
Trump’s campaign forcefully reminds us that psychology is central to politics. Despite the so called ‘Goldwater Rule’, which prohibits psychiatrists from commenting on a public figure’s mental health without having personally examined the individual and received their permission to do so, dozens of mental health professionals have issued stark warnings that Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. Aside from Trump’s personal...

How class and the rise of China won Trump the White House

by Vassilis K. Fouskas Added 07.12.2016
Most explanations concerning the reasons that led Trump to victory in the US presidential election are unconvincing for two simple reasons: they brush off the issue of class and the rise of China in the global political economy. In fact, these two factors were key to his success. Let’s take a look at the numbers. It is often assumed that it was white men who won Trump the White House. But his support was, in fact, relatively broad – and was...

The Development of the Trump Electorate and the Great Irony of the 2016 Election

by Lawrence Rosenthal Added 06.12.2016
In a well-known exchange in their first debate , Donald Trump castigated Hillary Clinton for retreating from the campaign trail in anticipation of the debate. Clinton responded that she had been busy preparing for the debate. And she added that she had as well been preparing for the presidency, a remark that elicited one of the illicit applauses from the audience. The implication was that Donald Trump, whose style of campaigning seemed to...

Five reasons why we (eventually) become happier as we get older

by Jolanta Burke Added 02.12.2016
Happiness has become a modern obsession. Searching for it, holding on to it, and wishing it on our loved ones have all become motivating forces for how we live our lives. We also use happiness as a measuring stick for life decisions. If a job doesn’t make us happy, we quit it. If a relationship stops making us happy, we leave it. Happiness has lodged itself at the centre of our lives and we make some drastic choices desperately trying to...

Conspiracy Theorist in Chief: Trump’s falsehood about 2 mn. illegal votes only tip of Melting Iceberg

by Juan Cole Added 29.11.2016
Americans have given the nuclear codes to that crazy uncle you have to sit through Thanksgiving with who watches nut cases like Alex Jones and red-facedly proclaims that FEMA is keeping Americans in concentration camps. Donald Trump still has his Twitter account and obsessed over the weekend about Jill Stein’s request for a recount in Minnesota and some other states. Then the last of the series came, saying that he would have won the popular...

How paedophiles speak to children online

by Cristina Izura and Nuria Lorenzo-Dus Added 29.11.2016
The internet has transformed our lives. As of July 2016, around 40% of the world’s population was online – that’s nearly 3.5 billion internet users. Since it was created, the web has gone from being a simple tool used to share and distribute information to a complex virtual place which pervades nearly every aspect of society. Though the creators’ intentions for the internet were surely good, today it is also used for heinous crimes such as...

Is Lt.-Gen. Flynn Right that Islam is not a Religion?

by Juan Cole Added 23.11.2016
The new National Security Adviser to incoming President Donald J. Trump, Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn, has called Islam a “cancer” and maintained that it is a “political ideology” masquerading as a religion. He made this generalization about the religion of 1.6 billion people out of the 7.4 billion humans on the planet, i.e. 21.6% of everyone alive. Moreover, because of high birth rates in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the proportion of...

Fake news is just the beginning

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 23.11.2016
Facebook is on the defensive after the elections, with accusations that it helped spread misinformation.  For days, Mark Zuckerberg was adamant that his network had not affected the election results, calling that “a pretty crazy idea”.  But after a torrent of criticism from his employees and the media—and evidence to back it up—he relented and took responsibility.  He promised to improve Facebook’s detection, reporting, and verification of...

Assisted Suicide: a musical that asks us to think critically about the portrayal of euthanasia

by Morven Cook Added 22.11.2016
Earlier this month, Colorado voters approved a ballot that made it the fifth state to legalise physician-assisted suicide (excluding Montana, which allows it via court ruling). Discussions around this issue are understandably fraught. At a time when legalisation is becoming more common, it’s now even more important that we consider how the debate around assisted dying is framed. Not only the news – but also documentaries and fictional...

These six new technology rules will govern our future

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 22.11.2016
Technology is advancing so rapidly that we will experience radical changes in society not only in our lifetimes but in the coming years. We have already begun to see ways in which computing, sensors, artificial intelligence and genomics are reshaping entire industries and our daily lives. As we undergo this rapid change, many of the old assumptions that we have relied will no longer apply. Technology is creating a new set of rules that will...

No, this isn’t the 1930s – but yes, this is fascism

by James McDougall Added 19.11.2016
The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it. The centre right is doing the same today. Brexit, Trump and the far right ascendant across Europe indicate that talk of a right-wing revolutionary moment is not exaggerated. And the French presidential election could be next on the calendar. The shock felt...

Dylan, Warhol, and the Conceptual Revolution of the ‘60s

by David Galenson Added 16.11.2016
If any more evidence were needed, the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature appears to provide definitive official recognition that the early 1960s witnessed a conceptual revolution in the arts. The opening shot was Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, which exploded on the film world in 1960 and immediately affected young directors. In 1962, Andy Warhol’s silkscreened portraits of Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe jolted the world of advanced art....
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