What Sharia law means: Five questions answered

by Asma Afsaruddin Added 20.06.2017
A note by the Editor of The Convesration: A conservative grassroots organization, ACT for America, organized a “March against Sharia” in at least 20 cities across the United States on Saturday, June 10. Professor of Islamic Studies at Indiana University Asma Afsaruddin explains Sharia and dispels a number of myths about it. What is Sharia law? Sharia in Arabic means “the way,” and does not refer to a body of law. Sharia is more accurately...

Why Saudi Extremism, Instability is an Argument for EVs, Wind and Solar Energy

by Juan Cole Added 16.06.2017
Saudi Arabia has gotten too big for its britches, and the oil-producing Middle East is turning even more unstable. Not to mention that global warming is getting worse and worse because of burning fossil fuels like petroleum. And it is your fault. If you are an American, your country imports 1.1 million barrels of petroleum every day from Saudi Arabia. Every time you fill up at the pump, you are enriching the Saudi elite and making the world...

Cities can jump-start climate progress by plugging in their vehicles

by Daniel Cohan Added 16.06.2017
  President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement reaffirmed what was already clear: The federal government is no longer leading American efforts to shrink our carbon footprint. But many state and local governments – along with businesses and consumers – aim to help fill this policy void. At least a dozen governors have joined the United States Climate Alliance, committing their states to achieve emissions reductions...

Why leadership looks weak and wobbly at Uber, Snap and Twitter

by John Colley Added 14.06.2017
Silicon Valley has not had a great year for governance, and ride-sharing business Uber has been struggling more than most. The company’s culture has come under sustained attack for macho and sexist elements leading CEO Travis Kalanick to fire staff and hire brand image specialists in a bid to convince the world the company is cleaning up its act. Now, the Uber board has adopted a series of recommendations designed to address the firm’s...

Why Universal Basic Income and tax breaks won’t save us from the jobless future

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 11.06.2017
In Amazon’s warehouses, there is a beehive of activity, and robots are increasingly doing more of the work. In less than five years, they will load self-driving trucks that transport goods to local distribution centers where drones will make last-mile deliveries. Soon afterward, autonomous cars will begin to take the wheel from taxi drivers; artificial intelligence will exceed the ability of human doctors to understand complex medical data;...

What will the world actually look like at 1.5°C of warming?

by Richard Betts Added 02.06.2017
The high ambition of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to “well below 2°C”, was driven by concern over long-term sea level rise. A warmer climate inevitably means melting ice – you don’t need a computer model to predict this, it is simple common sense. As temperatures rise, sooner or later much of the world’s glaciers will become water, which will end up in the ocean. With enough warming, ice sheets could also begin to melt...

Is AI the end of jobs or a new beginning?

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 01.06.2017
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing so rapidly that even its developers are being caught off guard. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in Davos, Switzerland, in January that it “touches every single one of our main projects, ranging from search to photos to ads … everything we do … it definitely surprised me, even though I was sitting right there.” The long-promised AI, the stuff we’ve seen in science fiction, is coming and we need to...

Donald Trump Will Not Go Gently

by Charles J. Reid, Jr. Added 21.05.2017
  As Donald Trump traverses the Middle East and Europe on his first international trip, there is considerable discussion domestically concerning the possibility that he might be removed from office, either involuntarily through impeachment, or through voluntary resignation.  I am not, however, convinced that he will soon depart office.  I hold to the view, rather, that when he returns from his overseas travels he will embark on a vigorous...

Karel Appel in Context

by David Galenson Added 21.05.2017
Karel Appel was born in Amsterdam in 1921, the son of a barber in a poor neighborhood. As a child, he painted with his uncle, an amateur artist. In 1942, he entered Amsterdam’s Royal Academy of Visual Art. In 1947, he and a classmate, the painter Corneille, traveled together to Paris, where they discovered modern art. In 1948, Appel and Corneille were among the founders of CoBrA. In 1949, Appel was commissioned to paint a mural for...

Edward Hopper: the artist who evoked urban loneliness and disappointment with beautiful clarity

by James Peacock Added 21.05.2017
Automat (1927). Irina/Flickr When Edward Hopper’s retrospective at Tate Modern in London closed in September 2004, more than 420,000 tickets had been sold. Up to that point, only the acclaimed duo of Matisse and Picasso had beat this record. It is now 50 years since Hopper died and his popularity hasn’t waned. What is it about Hopper’s brand of melancholy that has struck a chord with so many? Walking through the rooms of the exhibition was...

Why the million-dollar view is bad for our body and our soul

by Xing Ruan Added 20.05.2017
Sydneysiders desire to have a house with a harbour or ocean view. Elsewhere a distant mountain view will do. But a view from the house to the vast space is bad for us – the allure of the capacious world out there can only make our body, and our mind, relentlessly unsettled. The French proverb la forteresse assiégée – fortress besieged – is often used to describe the dilemma of being strangled inside while the freedom of space outside is...

What science tells us about successful ageing

by Bradley Elliott Added 12.05.2017
There have been some noteworthy examples of successful human ageing in the press recently. It was announced that Prince Phillip will be retiring from royal duties in the autumn, at the age of 96. A couple of days later we heard the sad news that 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sharchan died in an attempt to summit Everest (having successfully climbed the mountain at 76 years of age). Last week, we were also told about Bill Frankland, who, at 105...

The South Korean Election:  What Happens Next?

by Robert J. Delahunty and Charles J. Reid, Jr. Added 10.05.2017
  The sweeping victory of Emmanuel Macron in the recent French presidential election should not eclipse the result of the South Korean presidential race, in which the human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in won a decisive victory.  Indeed the South Korean outcome may well prove to be far more important, since it might fundamentally alter the US strategic position in the Pacific. Moon comes to power in the wake of the impeachment of former President...

Message Discipline — Health Care Is a Right

by Charles J. Reid, Jr. Added 06.05.2017
".......there are even religious reasons to support the claim that healthcare is a right. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s head of delegation at the United Nations, declared in March that “health care is a fundamental right ‘essential for the existence of many other rights’ and ‘necessary for living a life in dignity.’” (Catholic News Agency, March 16, 2017). Pope Francis, furthermore, has declared many times, in many venues, that...

Democratizing Artificial Intelligence

by Maciej Kuziemski Added 02.05.2017
OXFORD – Artificial Intelligence is the next technological frontier, and it has the potential to make or break the world order. The AI revolution could pull the “bottom billion” out of poverty and transform dysfunctional institutions, or it could entrench injustice and increase inequality. The outcome will depend on how we manage the coming changes. Unfortunately, when it comes to managing technological revolutions, humanity has a rather...

A Recovery Plan For the Catholic Church

by Charles J. Reid, Jr. Added 29.04.2017
Gabriel Moran has spent a lifetime laboring on Catholic themes. He was a member of the Christian Brothers until the age of fifty, when he left that religious order to marry. Even after this shift in vocations, Moran remained committed to Catholic concerns in his position as a professor of education at New York University. He has thus brought a wealth of experience and learning to his most recent book, “Missed Opportunities: Rethinking the...

Self-driving cars should leave us all unsettled. Here’s why.

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 29.04.2017
It is a warm autumn morning, and I am walking through downtown Mountain View, Calif., when I see it. A small vehicle that looks like a cross between a golf cart and a Jetson-esque, bubble-topped spaceship glides to a stop at an intersection. Someone is sitting in the passenger seat, but no one seems to be sitting in the driver seat. How odd, I think. And then I realize I am looking at a Google car. The technology giant is headquartered in...

Do you really choose what you eat – or do your gut microbes decide for you?

by Tim Spector Added 29.04.2017
Illustration by Gil Costa, with elements from Servier Medical Art Most of us believe in free will, particularly when it comes to our eating habits. That’s why most people don’t regard obesity as a disease but rather a moral weakness or lack of willpower. But the free will argument has been taking a bit of a beating lately. For example, we showed in studies using twins and others using families that the reason some people are overweight and...

Five ways the meat on your plate is killing the planet

by Francis Vergunst and Julian Savulescu Added 27.04.2017
When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming – the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals – it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat. Yet most of us probably won’t. Instead, we will mumble something about meat being tasty, that “everyone” eats it, and that we only buy “grass fed” beef. Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and...

Who Owns History?

by Lawrence Weschler Added 24.04.2017
Left: Henry Taylor, “The Times Thay Aint a Changing Fast Enough!” (2016); Right: Dana Schutz, “Open Casket” (2017); courtesy of the Whitney Museum NEW YORK – Take a look at the two paintings above. Both draw on iconic photographic images from the ugly and fraught history of race relations in the United States, and both are among the most discussed works featured at the current Whitney Biennial at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American...
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