This summer Voter ID laws in two US states have been struck down for having a disproportionate effect on African-American voters. Frederick Knight, Associate Professor of History at Morehouse College in Atlanta argues that today’s debate can only be understood in the context of the struggles of African-Americans for the vote in the past.
How did America become a nation of inequality? Its growing rich/poor divide is already a key theme of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A tidal wave of public anger over income inequality and the decline of the middle class has made ‘the rich’ a popular target on the campaign trail. Riding the crest of the wave is Bernie Sanders, who has gained popularity by calling for a “political revolution [against] the billionaire class”. Associate Professor of Law at Drake University, Anthony J. Gaughan, says the rich have brought this upon themselves with their rejection of noblesse oblige.
As the number of homeless people in England continues to rise, Rebuilding Lives followed the experiences of 297 formerly homeless people, five years after they made the transition from hostels and other temporary accommodation, into independent housing. The largest study of its kind in the UK, their work provides concrete evidence that rehousing homeless people enables them to rebuild their lives in the long term.
The key to defeating Islamic State lies in preventing the jihadists from profiting from oilfields under its control, says David Stupples. The Director of Electronic Warfare Research at City University London explains how the anti-ISIS coalition already has the capacity to stop the illegal oil trade funding its black market weaponry and the salaries of its administrators and fighters.
With the printing of a new annotated version of Hitler’s Mein Kampf planned for 2016, Alexander von Lunen argues that Hitler’s own words could be the best way to unravel the myth, believed by some, that the ‘Führer’ was simply misunderstood and that his ideas had been misinterpreted by his minions. While the reprint could cause emotional distress to Holocaust survivors, the main idea being that a critical edition of the book should be available to counter the anticipated reprint of it by neo-Nazis, writes von Lunen.
Is relying on digital devices to remember information impairing our memories? Saima Noreen considers new research that suggests our reliance on technology and the internet is leading to “digital amnesia” and asks if we are, instead, simply storing information differently.
London’s housing crisis affects everyone who is not a millionaire, from young professionals trying to get on the housing ladder to hotel workers forced to live in sheds by slum landlords. The new leader of the UK's opposition, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the ‘social cleansing’ associated with the housing crisis. To ensure change, local campaigns must unite in a national movement, writes London based anti-austerity activist Sarah Aviah.
The killing of large carnivores by villagers near Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park – home to large numbers of lions, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and spotted hyenas – is causing wildlife experts concern. But with attacks on livestock resulting in significant economic and cultural costs to local households, can a solution be found? Amy Dickman says the answer could lie with another animal – dogs.
Renowned academic and controversial political activist Noam Chomsky considers the Iranian nuclear agreement, signed in Vienna on 14 July, and how it relates to US policy in the Middle East. He argues that it is America, not Iran, that is the gravest threat to world peace.
In Russia, a new presidential decree came into force on August 6, requiring any ‘contraband’ food products that have crossed the border to be destroyed. The same day, the internet was inundated with photos of people scrabbling for peaches, oranges and cheese, which had escaped being buried by bulldozers. While food imports from western countries are being destroyed in massive quantities, many citizens cannot afford to feed themselves – 23 million Russian citizens live below the poverty line. Ivan Zhilin speaks to families struggling to survive beneath the breadline.
Advertising giant M&C Saatchi is currently testing advertising billboards with hidden cameras that read emotions and react according to whether a person’s facial expression is happy, sad or neutral. Through reading facial expressions, adverts are able to bypass the guesswork and make direct use of our emotions. Is this creative? Creepy? Or a taste of the future? Andrew McStay considers what these billboards signal about artificially intelligent advertising campaigns of the future.
Emojis – those ubiquitous smileys, winks and love hearts that have been popping up on smartphones and social media around the world since 2011 - are about to leap on to the silver screen, after Sony Pictures announced it had bought the rights to a film project about the colourful glyphs. Linguistics professor Vyvyan Evans considers the world-domination of emojis – there’s now a World Emoji Day (July 17, if you wondered) – and what an emoji film might turn out like.
With the murder of a pregnant woman and her six children, Russia’s domestic violence epidemic again made headlines … but only briefly. Three Russian policemen have been charged with criminal negligence for ignoring the woman’s earlier pleas for help regarding her husband’s violent behaviour. In a country where victims of domestic violence are regularly vilified, her story is tragically not uncommon. Russia needs domestic violence legislation, and fast, says journalist Natalia Antonova.
“The death penalty is broken and it cannot be fixed,” says law professor Brandon L. Garrett in an opinion piece that examines the flaws in America’s death penalty – an issue over which the US Supreme Court and public remains divided. Garrett emphasises the inherent problems of confession evidence, on which death penalty cases often heavily rely. He points to a number of cases where false confessions have been disproven years later by DNA testing.
An American trophy hunter has kicked off another social media furore after defending a recent giraffe kill in South Africa by claiming they are “very dangerous animals”. Contrary to her claims, the long-necked herbivores are increasingly in danger from people. In 1999 there were an estimated 140,000 giraffes in Africa – today the Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimates there are only 80,000 left. A popular target for bushmeat poachers, such a rapid decline suggests giraffes may soon qualify as being vulnerable to extinction, writes conservation expert Matt Hayward.
Many scientists believe that anything sent into a black hole would probably be destroyed. But new research suggests that a person falling into a black hole would actually be absorbed into a hologram – without even noticing. The paper challenges a rival theory stating that anybody falling into a black hole hits a “firewall” and is immediately destroyed. Professor Marika Taylor explains.
Dinosaurs are back, on the big screen at least, as Jurassic World comes crashing into cinemas with a new dino star - a genetically-engineered hybrid, ominously named Indominus Rex. In the wake of the original 1993 Jurassic Park, scientists were unanimously emphatic that there was no way on earth dinosaurs could ever be resurrected. But according to PhD Candidate Elizabeth Jones, the film franchise, to some extent, did actually drive and develop the science and technology of ancient DNA research. As a knock on effect, questions are also being raised about the possibility of mammoth de-extinction, and the ethics surrounding it.
Some wild west African chimpanzees are teetotallers, whereas others are frequent drinkers given the opportunity – consuming the equivalent of three pints of strong lager per day. A new scientific study lends support to the drunken monkey hypothesis, which suggests humans and their primate relatives are attracted to the smell of alcohol because in our common evolutionary history this indicates the presence of energy rich, albeit fermenting fruits. This could help explain why people and some primates become addicted to alcohol writes Wildlife Conservation Professor Robert John Young, who also discovers if any species, other than humans, regularly drinks to intoxication.
From Star Wars and Alien to Futurama, the idea that humans can be frozen in time in order to be awoken later is a well-established sci-fi trope. While stopping biological time or inducing long-term hibernation is still as far off as the long-distance space travel that it’s associated with, the research around it is of huge scientific and medical importance, says chemistry professor Matthew Gibson. His research is inspired by the so called antifreeze glycoproteins that enable frogs and fish to survive in subzero temperatures – and he points out that we can already freeze and store cells, tissues and organs.
Vampires walk among us. But these people aren’t the stuff of nightmares – far from it actually. John Edgar Browning has spent five years conducting ethnographic studies of the “real vampires” living in New Orleans and Buffalo. While they don’t turn into bats or live forever, many do sport fangs and just as many live a primarily nocturnal existence. These are just some of the cultural markers real vampires adopt to express a shared (and, according to them, biological) essence – they need blood (human or animal) or psychic energy from donors in order to feel healthy. The real vampire community spreads across the world, from Russia and South Africa to England and the United States. Particularly in the internet age, vampires are often well attuned to community issues.